First DCPS Student Graduates from the AdvancePath Academy
April 5, 2011
Dr. Nyankori gives a diploma to Terry Wilkes, the first AdvancePath Academy graduate.
AdvancePath Academy staff, Terry Wilkes and Dr. Nyankori celebrate the graduation.
Dressed in a white cap and gown, Terry Ray Wilkes rang a hand bell proudly in front of his classmates.
This bell is what all AdvancePath Academy students will ring when they graduate. Terry is the first.
The AdvancePath Academy opened in August 2010 in partnership between District of Columbia Public Schools and AdvancePath Academics.
AdvancePath provides an alternative education path to DCPS students who are at risk of dropping out or will not earn their diploma on time at their current school.
“As the first student to graduate from AdvancePath, Terry has set the expectation of success for his peers and for himself,” said Dr. Richard Nyankori, Deputy Chancellor for Special Education. “Terry has proven that with the right effort and the right educational environment, graduation is within reach for all students.”
Terry was scheduled to graduate from the non-public school he attended at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Instead, he walked the stage without the last couple credits he needed to earn his diploma.
When AdvancePath opened in August 2010, Terry was enrolled.
At AdvancePath, the curriculum for students is self-paced, primarily online and meets DCPS standards. Before starting classes, the teachers interview the students at length and create a personalized learning path for the students.
Instead of desks, students sit at clusters of computers, moving through each lesson at their own pace. Teachers stay close, answering questions and providing students with the support they need to understand and master subject areas.
“I couldn’t do it without my teachers,” said Terry.
AdvancePath students are required to take midterms and finals just like any other DCPS student trying to pass a class. To earn a credit and move on to earning the next one, an AdvancePath student must achieve an 80 percent average.
One of the hardest things to overcome, Terry said, was making himself buckle down and commit to coming to class everyday.
“There are so many things that pop up everyday that I chose to do instead of coming here,” Terry said. “That procrastination was what was hurting my progress. Now I come here everyday.”
“Going to AdvancePath is easier because it’s smaller. You have distractions, but you have to tune them out. Everybody is going to have an off day.”
Many students at AdvancePath work or are looking for a job. In order to accommodate their work schedule, students can attend either a four-hour class session in the morning or in the afternoon.
Terry just started working a part-time internship, and he says he has worked hard to juggle both his studies and his job.
Terry said his father and his daughter were his inspiration to graduate from AdvancePath, and will continue to be his inspiration as he looks for a job and starts his career.
“My dad turned his life around for me, and that’s why I need to turn mine around,” said Terry. “You always need someone to inspire you. I was his inspiration.”
After graduation, Terry said he is going to continue applying for jobs and Job Corps, a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career and find a good job.
But for right now, Terry can enjoy the recognition of being the first student to graduate from AdvancePath.
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