Tiger Academy is not a disciplinary school, it’s a program for students who want to earn their high school diploma regardless of their personal circumstances. They could be returning to school after dropping out, supporting themselves, have a baby or any other number of reasons which put them at risk of not getting their diploma, according to Mr. Philpot, a teacher at Tiger Academy. These are students who no longer fit well in the traditional school environment but have not given up on their graduation dreams.
Tiger Academy does not teach like a traditional high school with bells schedules and teachers standing at the front of the class. In the academy, students are taking their classes online and only know their teachers online. The students also complete their work at the pace they choose to complete the lessons on time.
“In addition to a high school diploma, we emphasize taking responsibility for our own education and how to manage time,” said Mr. Philpot. “It’s very empowering for their future.”
With only 15 seats available, students are chosen with care and go through an interview process before being accepted into the program. They are also given clearly defined roles and expectations while there.
Heavy on reading and writing, this program is not an easier way to get a diploma, and in fact, the course teachers, who never meet their students in person, have high expectations of the students.
“The students manage their schedule and make decisions on priorities,” said Mr. Philpot. “There’s definitely a learning curve on that.”
About 10 students are expected to graduate this year, adding to the 40 plus from prior years since the program began in the 2011-12 school year. After state requirements are met for graduation, students have the option to walk at graduation ceremony with the student body to receive their diploma.