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  • Writer's pictureHiFive Education

Georgia Innovation Academy and You... Is it Meant to Be?

Open to rising freshmen and sophomores for the 2021-2022 school year, Georgia's Innovation Academy promises engaging, STEM-based practical and educational experiences for its prospective students. But is it the right fit for your student? As a magnet school, Innovation Academy will host a blend of students from a number of cities, offering unique opportunities not just in course work, but also within its connected student body. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and pondered over certain factors that may help you decide whether (or not) Innovation Academy is right for your student!

Is my Child Eligible to Attend?

If your child is zoned for Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Milton, Cambridge, Centennial, Chattahoochee, North Springs, Northview, Riverwood, or Roswell High School clusters, then your child is eligible to attend Innovation Academy. It is worth noting that applications for the 2021-2022 school year have closed for the primary lottery on March 1st, however, applications may still be submitted, and your child may be eligible in future years. This past year, they limited admissions to rising freshmen and sophomores, and they are likely to do the same next year.

What makes Innovation Academy Different from other Schools?

Innovation Academy “provides an educational experience that will help push students to be creators and problem-solvers for a continuously changing world,” encouraging collaborative teamwork, practical experimentation, and problem-solving. Students are required to complete a pathway in either computer science, engineering, or healthcare science. While doing so, students complete relevant, self-selected projects, like trying to engineer ways to bring clean-sourced water to disaster areas, for example. Innovation’s philosophy in completing projects and coursework is one of experimentation and revision - students are encouraged to fail, review, and redo.

What kind of Students are Innovation Academy Looking for?

The following questions are taken directly from Innovation Academy’s website - this is how they describe their students! Have your student truly reflect on the questions.

Passionate: Do you care deeply for one or more subjects whether you are learning in school or on your own?

Curious: Do you look for answers to questions even when it takes effort?

Humble: Are you ok with being wrong? Are you ok seeking out answers by asking others?

Problem-seekers: Do you like to find challenges in the world around you?

Problem-solvers: Does it bother you when you don't know the answer to something? Will you work hard to find the answer?

Additionally, here are some extra words that Innovation Academy uses to describe their students:

Inquisitive, Collaborative, Creative, Analytical, Well-rounded, Empathetic, Flexible, Driven.

Parents, does this sound like your student? Students, does this sound like you? If so, Innovation Academy may be the right fit for you!

What does the Innovation Academy Curriculum look like?

In addition to the aforementioned health science, engineering, or computer science pathways, students must complete an AP capstone project. This includes taking AP Seminar at the same time as their 10th grade ELA course, which allows students to earn two credits for the single, combined class. Junior students must also take AP Research, delving into an issue or problem of personal interest, or an academic topic. We’ve included a sample schedule example below.

By attending Innovation Academy, what will my child miss out on?

There are two big ones here, the first being GSHA athletics. As an Innovation Academy student, your child will not be able to participate in high school/ state-level athletics, and they cannot be transported to train or compete, either. While athletics may seem insignificant when compared to a robust STEM education, it is important to remember that high school (and its preparation for college) should be a well-balanced experience to prepare your child for adulthood, while offering them chances to grow along the way. By attending the Academy, you must unfortunately forfeit the chance to compete with your zoned high school’s team. For students looking forward to playing sports in college, potentially gaining scholarships, or simply experiencing the joys and comradery of a high school team, Innovation Academy may not be the right fit.

The second activity your child must forego is Band/Orchestra: Similarly to athletics, Innovation Academy does not offer a band or orchestra program. For melodic musicians and aspiring Vivaldis, this school’s lack of musical outlet may be a game changer.

Another area to look into is the AP Curriculum. As with any new high school, the strength and quality of the AP curriculum and course offerings highly depends on the staff available at the school and their experience with teaching AP courses in the past. As a brand new school, Innovation Academy may not offer all the same AP Courses as the other public high schools, which have been building their curriculum for several years. Other local high schools in the Alpharetta/Milton area, including Milton, Cambridge, FSA, and Alpharetta HS allow their students to take as many as 2 AP courses from the beginning of their freshman year, and offer over 20+ AP courses to choose from. Many high-achieving students graduate with 11-15 AP courses under their belts, and stand out to nationally ranked colleges. As a new school, there are far fewer AP courses offered to students at Innovation Academy. However, the AP offerings could increase within the next few years.

In summary, by opting to attend this selective STEM magnet school, your child may forfeit the opportunity to more holistically explore their interests. For artists, athletes, and musicians, and theater proteges, Innovation Academy’s current accommodations are limited, especially when compared to their well-established public school counterparts. Further, the AP course offerings are far more limited in the time being, but the school may offer more advanced courses within the next few years for all students.

How can I go about Deciding between my Zoned School or Innovation Academy?

As a parent, the best thing to do moving forward is simply have a conversation with your child - ask them what they’re excited to do throughout high school. They may instantly start gushing about your zoned school’s arts program or athletics or explain how excited they are to get hands-on STEM experience or join robotics clubs. By simply opening the conversation, you can learn more about what excites your student. If you think your student may enjoy Innovation Academy based on some conversation, then let the deciding begin!

Let us know how we can help!

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