AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – When the bell rings this time at Morgan Road Middle School everything will be different.
“So, we’ll have a very diverse population. We will have students from all over the county,” said Angela Moore, Innovation Academy for Girls Principal.
New students. Same building. New school concept. Richmond County School System will launch the Innovation Academy this school year. It’s a choice school that separates genders and meets students where they are.
“We’ll have students who have all types of barriers,” Moore explained.
“I was that student,” said Anton Anthony, Innovation Academy for Boys Principal. “ADHD, no medicine or anything of that nature, but no one really cared.”
Aton Anthony and Angela Moore will serve as principals for the school. Anthony on the boys’ Royal Blue wing and Moore has the girls covered in the Royal Purple section. While some will elect to go, others may arrive through the tribunal process. But all will have their personal and academic needs addressed.
“We’re starting the day with circles,” Anthony described how early morning counseling will go. “That’s one of the strategies that we learned to empower students to have a voice to figure out what’s going on in their day to day life.”
“A full time social worker, a full time psychologist, a food bank, a clothing bank, a full time nurse. We’ll also have a program that we’re piloting here where medications can be provided,” Moore said.
Classrooms are equipped with new desks and each student will have new technology, but no books. But the main concept is to remove the ultimate barrier, the distraction of having someone of the opposite sex in your class.
Anthony added, “Whether it’s social media, being macho for a young lady that’s in the class or dressing a certain way for them to impress.”
“By us meeting those needs and removing those barriers then hopefully that will allow them to focus on the academic piece,” Moore said.
Boys and girls will be completed separated while at school. They will, however, ride the bus together. School starts Tuesday, August 6 in Richmond County.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps