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Welcome to Topper Academy

TA
Last Updated: 1/25/2023 2:39 AM

The creation of this program is the result of a group of dedicated educators who became concerned about the number of students at Science Hill High School who were either struggling or who had given up and simply left school. It became clear that some kind of program needed to be set up to help address the unique needs of this population of students. Topper Academy is the result of the dedication, sacrifice, hard work and research of this visionary group of educators.

The faculty, staff, and students function much as a family does; the atmosphere in our program is oriented toward fostering acceptance, a sense of belonging, and responsibility for ourselves and others. It is in this caring environment that students in grades 9-12 are invited to take advantage of the opportunity for a second chance to learn, earn credit, and graduate.

 

Leadership Vision

The leadership team is the driving force of JCVA and Topper Academy. The team is driven by the fundamentals of transformational leadership and focuses on developing a grand vision and rallying our staff around it. This team is eager to transform and evolve – personally and professionally. The team focuses on developing a harmonious workplace, focusing on everyone working together and opening the lines of communication.

Schedule Vision

Science Hill High School's alternative placement program, "Topper Academy," aims to provide a smaller Teacher-to-Student ratio to achieve academic credits. The program also provides support services for social-emotional, behavior, and attendance deficits so that students return to their traditional environment at Science Hill High School. Students at Topper Academy will receive an alternative schedule. The alternative schedule consists of three hours of in-person services and three hours of remote services. Research shows that smaller class sizes and shorter work increments maximize academic success for alternative students. A three-hour in-person service learning day combined with a three-hour remote learning period will reduce class size by 50%. Thus, allowing for more individualized help and maximizing the work effort of a student while in the care of an alternative school teacher.

Determining student schedules is a very complex algorithm and is decided by the Topper Academy Leadership team. The team considers all factors when determining schedule placement. They also collaborate with each other to determine if a schedule needs to be switched.

Attendance Vision

Attendance at Topper Academy is designed to maximize school effort but avoid triggers and stress. Students at Topper Academy are counted as present for in-person learning or if they are completing adequate work in a remote setting. Simply logging in is insufficient progress and will not be counted towards attendance. Teachers take full responsibility to sets high expectations for daily progress that ensure students keep on track or catch up with their cohort. Although we do try every intervention to avoid truancy, we have filed nine petitions this year. This is a low number because the leadership team has intensely monitored and held students accountable for their attendance.

Schedule A: 7:50-11:15 (11:15-11:30 Lunch)

Schedule B: (11:15-12:00 Lunch) 12:00-3:00

Schedule C: All Day

Schedule D: Fully Remote

Academic Vision

To help create hope while also maintaining the integrity of our academic standards, Students are placed in edmentum and work on one credit at a time. When entering the teacher's room, students learn about the process they will follow to recover credit in that content area. The lab teachers identify the class the student failed and at what percentage and then read through feedback and recommendations provided by the original classroom teacher. Together, the lab teacher and the student form a credit recovery plan based on the student’s interests and missed standards. The student will receive support in that course from teachers and other resources. The goal is to obtain the credit needed for graduation.

 

Behavior Vision

The vision our leadership team has created consists of putting students first. Every student is treated as an individual, keeping in mind their unique social, emotional, and learning needs, realizing those needs may change, and adapting to meet those needs. Our approach with alternative school students is not punishment and consequences. That is a barbaric approach for students that suffer so much trauma. Instead, we mentor our students. Mentoring allows us to learn from one another, providing a path to knowledge transfer.

 

Topper Academy Student Services Break Vision

One unique intervention Topper Academy offers is our "Student Services Break." Student Services break is when Student Services Departments such as Social Worker, Frontier Health, Counselor, and Behavior intervention can speak to students outside of the regular academic hours. Each department has a designated cafeteria area, so students know where to find them. Student Services is not a privileged break but a service we provide students. The Topper Academy Student Services Department is committed to supporting the instructional process by identifying and eliminating barriers to learning, advocating for the whole child's needs, and empowering all students to become lifelong learners.

Students working Students working on models A completed model by a student. Students hear from Coach Malone. Leah Smith Front of Topper Academy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Administrator

Laoo

George Laoo, Building Administrator 

820 W. Market St.

Johnson City TN 37604

Phone: (423) 928-0380

 

I am blessed and fortunate to be able to serve as Topper Academy's Building Administrator. I count it a privilege to partner with you in your child’s education, and I am dedicated to continuing the tradition of excellence at SHHS. My goal is to partner with the teachers and parents as I continue to foster relationships with each student in an environment where we work hard and play hard.  Together, we will positively impact each child’s future. 

 

Biography

My Family: I am married to Jane Laoo, a Principal at Holston View Elementary in the Bristol City School system. We have three children. The oldest is Zion, Killian is our middle child, and Quillen is our youngest child.

Hobbies: My family is very important to me. I love spending time with them, attending sporting events of my son, daughter, and students, motorcycle riding, flipping houses, and relaxing on the lake.

Military Experience: I enlisted into the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 1996. I graduated Paris Island boot camp the fall of 1996. I served seven years as a Mortarman. A Marine Corps Mortarman (MOS 0341) is a soldier that is part of the infantry. 0341 MOS operates mortars, which are muzzle-loading, high-angled weapons used to provide support for ground troops. I was honorable discharged in 2006. I obtained the rank of Sergeant, which is a junior noncommissioned officer rank in the USMC, and the oldest rank in the Marine Corps.

Teaching Experiences: I have a wide range of professional experiences from elementary through high school level education. I have been a dedicated assistant for struggling students, served as a math teacher, and a baseball coach at King University in Bristol. I started my teaching career in 3rd grade and 6th grade and coached baseball at Tennessee High School. I served as an educational consultant for the Tennessee Department of Education, a Program Assistant at Haynesfield Elementary, District Data and Testing Coordinator for Bristol City Schools, Assistant Principal at Science Hill High School and Topper Academy. 

Education: I received my undergraduate degree from Emory & Henry in 2000. I continued at East Tennessee University and received my Master of Arts in teaching in 2006. I continued at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and received my Educational Specialist degree in 2016. In 2020, I started my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at LMU.