The Georgia Association for Alternative Education (GAAE) recognized Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School as the 2017-2018 Spotlight School of the Year during its recent conference.
The honor recognizes a school that incorporates exemplary practices each day in a non-traditional setting. Winning schools should embody the 15 exemplary practices for alternative education programs that have been established by the National Association for Alternative Education (NAAE). The comprehensive list of practices relate to leadership, climate and culture, curriculum and instruction, parent involvement and more. More information on each practice can be found on the NAAE website.
Dawn Parker is the principal of Crim, a non-traditional high school that prepares students to be college and career ready. When she reflects on where the school has been to where it is now, Parker said receiving this recognition is a significant accomplishment for Crim.
“It symbolically represents the blood, sweat, and tears that my team has collectively poured into our program over the last 4 years of my tenure. The tremendous gains that we have obtained are absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “These types of gains don’t just happen. It takes a collective effort on everyone’s part to build a culture of continuous growth. Our students have embraced our mission and are determined to succeed, so it is amazing for them to see the growth and experience such success and recognition.”
Parker said Crim has achieved many recent gains of which she is proud. The school earned the highest end of course (EOC) growth in the district for 2016-2017 (20.8 percent); increased the school’s student attendance rate by 3 percent, increased the school’s graduation rate by 4 percent for students graduating within 4 years, and also saw increases in their latest CCRPI scores by 24 points, almost doubling last year’s score.
In addition to helping students obtain the necessary credits to graduate, Crim has several thriving Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) programs as well. The culinary arts, Engineering and Design, and construction programs are award-winning programs that are providing students with career pathways while they are in high school. Chef Larry Alford, who oversees the culinary arts program, was even recently recognized as Atlanta Public School’s High School Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the districtwide honor.
Parker said alternative education is critically important for many APS students who cannot thrive in a traditional environment.
“Alternative education is important for any student who chooses another path of education. Alternative is an option. Alternative is a choice. Often times the term alternative is used with a negative connotation. However, the term alternative simply means providing multiple opportunities to help students achieve their goals,” she said. “Our mission is to understand the best way our kids learn and meet them where they are. To this end, Crim is a premier ‘alternative’ school because we are continuously looking at new ways to serve our students. We wear the name ‘alternative’ proudly! We are an Alternative!”