Emerson Academy, Owensboro Public School’s alternative high school, will open its doors to students Wednesday for the first time, boasting a new name and a new building. Officials believe both changes will go a long way in improving students’ attendance.
Kevin Thompson, principal at Emerson Academy, said the new facility, which was previously the OPS transportation building, will give his students a sense of ownership in their education. Gateway Academy, the school’s former name, was housed in Cliff Hagan’s Boys and Girls Club for the last two years.
“It was a great partnership,” he said. “The space just wasn’t conducive for the education of our students.”
Thompson said the new facility, located on Hickman Avenue, will be a source of pride for both students and staff.
Diana Rumage, student assistance coordinator at Emerson Academy, has been a part of OPS’ alternative high school for 11 years. She is not only looking forward to working at the new facility, but believes it will drive the students she works with to succeed.
“This shows the students they are valued,” she said. “Our students might feel labeled as second-rate or bad students and I think this will give them a positive outlook on the school and they will look forward to coming.”
Emerson Academy is home to anywhere between 80 to 100 students who attend either the day, night or credit recovery programs. Students come to Emerson with credit deficiencies or because they were not successful in a traditional setting. Thompson has 14 staff members, five of which are certified teachers.
Thompson said he and his staff will implement a pilot work study and mentor program — EARN (Emerson Academy Resiliency Network.) Through a partnership with CASA of the Ohio Valley, the program will focus on life skills, such as career preparation, budgeting, financial responsibility, applying for jobs and housing, time management and communication.
The total renovation budget for Emerson Academy came in at just over $3 million. The project was funded by the sale of the Texas Gas building and the Seven Hills school building to Audubon Area Community Services.