Some of the hallways of the old Bowman Elementary School in Elbert County are alive with students again, though the students that grace the halls these days are not beginning their education, instead they’re getting a second chance to finish up their public school careers with a high school diploma – something many of them had given up on, until now.
Mountain Education Charter High School (MEC) opened its doors in Bowman last summer, making a deal with Elbert County school system officials to renovate and use portions of the elementary school, which was closed a few years ago due to budget cuts.
“It’s a game changer for these students and a real gift to this community,” said site director Dr. Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, who also serves as a Madison County school system assistant superintendent. Gibney-Sherman splits the director’s job with Sonja Barnett from Elbert County two nights per week.
Billed as “North Georgia’s answer to the dropout problem,” Bowman MEC is the tenth such high school in the MEC system to open its doors to high school students who are struggling or who have given up altogether on high school. Bowman MEC is a cooperative effort between Elbert, Madison and Hart county school systems who were seeking an alternative way to increase their graduation rates, while helping students who, for whatever reason, found that regular high school just wasn’t working for them. Gibney-Sherman credits Madison County superintendent Dr. Allen McCannon with helping spearhead efforts to bring MEC, with campuses from Blue Ridge to Cleveland, to this area.
“Though we serve students primarily from these three counties, any student who’s withdrawn from high school can enroll,” Gibney-Sherman said.
MEC is open four nights a week (Monday to Thursday) from 4 to 9:30 p.m. Current enrollment stands at over 100 students, with 17 of those from Madison County. The school is growing so fast that currently several classrooms in another wing are under renovation to add room for more students.
Andy Felt, a Madison County High School teacher who also teaches two nights per week at Bowmen MEC, helps MEC student Shaina Haynes with her science coursework. Haynes is one of a number of Madison County students currently enrolled at the new regional charter school designed to help more students earn a high school diploma. Margie Richards/staff
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)