Prestige Academy touted as success in Sewanhaka district

Elmont Memorial High School All-County football players Jaiyetoro Gordon-Young (left) and Ebubechukwu Obiora (third, right) are pictured with (from left): Athletic Director Christopher Agostino, Principal Kevin Dougherty, Board of Education trustee Tameka Battle-Burkett and Board of Education Vice President Michael Jaime. (Photo courtesy of the Sewanhaka Central High School District)

Administrators and staff presented an update on the status of Prestige Academy, the Sewanhaka Central High School District’s newly formed alternative school, at the Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday night.

The program has been a great success since beginning in September 2018, John Kenny, the director of alternative education, said.

Prestige Academy is an alternative school program for students in the district that are at risk for failing, based on factors such as poor grades and truancy.

Over the summer, Kenny met with over 40 prospective students who enrolled in the program for the first time.

Kenny boasted of the attendance of the alternative learning students in particular. In the first quarter of 2017, 66 absences were recorded for at risk students. In 2018, zero students from Prestige Academy posted unexcused absences.

Prestige Academy is run by Kenny, four teachers, a teaching assistant, a counselor and school psychologist.

The instructors in the program, whom Kenny compared to the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team deemed the “Dream Team,” gave testament to alternative modes of education and student engagement, reporting to the board that students are more interested in learning when presented with choices, projects and counseling.

The staff “know exactly what students need as soon as they walk in the door,” Kenny said. Teachers have also helped students prepare for the SAT exam, fill out college applications and even taken them on trips around the neighborhood to apply for part-time jobs.

The academy also participates regularly in volunteer work, such as cooking brunches for families at the nearby Ronald McDonald House, building gift baskets for those in need and participating in a healthy choices forum. Kenny said that most of the students had never done volunteer work before and that the positive reception was overwhelming.

Being given the opportunity to lead the district’s new alternative school has been a dream fulfilled, according to Kenny, who also serves as the assistant principal for Sewanhaka High School.

Superintendent of Schools Ralph Ferrie called the program “a dream that has come to realization,” thanks to Kenny and his staff.

Another part of the alternative education program is the creation of the district’s Academic Learning Center.

Rather than have suspended students stay home and miss valuable curriculum material, students attend the learning center for seven hours, a full school day, and do their assigned work, which Kerry called “a good deterrent.”

Before the board meeting, the district hosted its annual fall sports awards, presenting  awards to students and coaches from the five district high schools: Elmont Memorial High School, Floral Park Memorial High School, H. Frank Carey High School, New Hyde Park Memorial High School and Sewanhaka High School.

In total, 52 awards were presented during the ceremony for all-county, all-state and various individual honors.

About the author

Jed Hendrixson

Jedidiah Hendrixson is reporter for Blank Slate Media covering New Hyde Park and the Willistons.
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