IRMO, S.C. — Two weeks after the creation of "the nest" at Irmo high school, administrators are saying this new academy is doing its job.
The new "school within a school" has seen some challenges, but also some success in the last 14 days.
Staffing has been an obstacle. They are still searching for a permanent math teacher, but the pool of teachers available is wider with not all teachers needing full certification. Some are still working toward that. The district has also opened up positions online.
"A couple days you had that fight back a little bit," said Irmo high school assistant principal Kyle Yobs. "They were a little bit confused, and as we explained the process and that it's a helpful system that's here to nurture and guide them, then they got on board, and we're seeing a lot of success."
Administrators said grades and attendance are climbing.
Assistant principal Kyle Yobs said incident referrals at the high school have dropped significantly, by 33% since the nest academy was introduced. The high school is at their lowest monthly incident referral total since August 2021.
"A lot of teachers, students and admins have said the school's been a lot quieter and our number of total discipline referrals has gone way down," Yobs said.
Administration said some parents have been very supportive, sending thank you emails and calls. Other parents are asking why not expel these students.
"At home you can say whatever you want to because you don't have to then talk to that person the next day, but now, when we're here and we can facilitate those conversations and help students engage in respectful conversations, it'll cut out some of that other stuff and those are just skills that they've missed, mainly due to COVID and having those topsy turvy formative years," Yobs said.
According to administration, these students can, in fact, transfer out of the nest academy if there is students demonstrate consistent progress.
There are currently 50 students enrolled at the nest academy, with capability to accommodate 60-70, depending on staffing. There are five teachers at the academy.
The nest is also sectioned off with movable barriers green-lighted by the district to be replaced with walls sometime after April 2022.
The nest also has a designated hall monitor.
"We had a lot of kids that had issues before they arrived into the nest that we were able to sit down and facilitate conversations between those particular students and squash problems that could’ve led to a fight at lunch time," Yobs said.
Irmo High School's assistant principal said they plan to keep referring students to this academy in the future, and intend to extend it to middle school aged students eventually.