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Irmo Nest Academy changes structure, expands to Irmo Middle School

There are about 20 students at the Nest Academy at Irmo Middle School currently.

IRMO, S.C. — It's been almost eight months since the creation of the Irmo "Nest Academy."

It's a school within a school concept, in Lexington-Richland School District Five, for those students who may be struggling behaviorally and academically. Safety concerns during the 2021-2022 school year prompted it.

Now, they're expanding and improving methods. 

The Nest was originally piloted at Irmo High School, with 50 students enrolled.

This school year, the concept of a school within a school branched out to Irmo Middle School students. There, 20 students are enrolled, three are incoming and three are exiting.

"They were identified as having either attendance, social-emotional, academic or some type of behavior concern from the previous school year and then they were identified throughout the summer. I met with those parents in the summer so they were able to start with us here in the nest in the beginning of the school year," said Sharisse Lee, assistant principal of the Nest at Irmo Middle School.

RELATED: A look inside the 'Nest Academy' at Irmo High School

The Irmo Middle School Nest's assistant principal Sharisse Lee explains they have four core teachers, a P.E. teacher and four teachers assistants.

At Irmo High, where the program originated, there have been adjustments in the program since its start.

"Our program is shifting this year, just based on feedback from faculty, staff district office and we will have students in the second quarter, so at the top of the second quarter, which is in about three weeks, we will have students in our nest," said Kaaren Hampton, principal at Irmo High School. 

School district officials tell News 19 the high school program didn't re-start in August because they didn't have any students who needed the intervention at the start of the year. Now they do, and officials explain October is a smooth transition point for grades. 

Starting in October, there will be about 15 students enrolled.

Hampton, the high school's principal tells News 19 there will be TAs this year in English, social studies, math and science, there will be a greater approach to including family with weekly parent-teacher conferences and a mental health counselor partially located in the Nest. 

RELATED: Lexington-Richland 5 to arm district security team, adding to law enforcement response

"We're in a different place not only within our school but I think within schools in general, now that our students have been back in school for about a year and traditional in the classroom, in the building setting," Hampton said.

Hampton explains comparing last year's first month of the Nest Academy to this year's, they've been down 500 discipline referrals.

During the week of October 13, 2022 is when Irmo High School students will start up at the Nest again.

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