THINC chair updates board, asks for better collaboration

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

THINC Board Chairman Corinne Hodges asked for better security and a refocus on pursuing accreditations during Monday night’s Troup County School Board work session.

Hodges provided an update on THINC, leading off a work session that last right around three hours. She said that THINC “accomplished everything we presented last year” and shifted focus toward the future, where one of the goals is higher enrollment.

“As you know, due to a multitude of factors, we did not reach our targeted enrollment for 2017-2018,” Hodges said. “We are optimistic that enrollment for 2018-2019 has experienced a step up in growth.”

This year THINC will welcome its first ever ninth grade students on campus. Hodges estimated between 650 to 750 students will attend THINC this upcoming school year, plus another 200 in dual enrollment and work-based learning.

“These numbers would maximize the capacity in our current space, and we have innovative plans from handling project-based learning while protecting the student experience with some creative furniture configurations and classroom arrangements,” Hodges said.

Hodges said THINC’s board has two concerns — student safety and refocusing on the original goal to achieve accreditation from the National Career Academy Coalition.

“With that many students on campus, in a college, we are mindful of the need to increase our professional staffing level to help supervise these students, especially when you consider new ninth graders on campus. With our current number of 420 on campus, the two administrators are extremely stretched, often performing clerical duties rather than working to ensure safety and leadership on campus,” Hodges said. “And even though students are only on campus once a day, having a minimum of one counselor, or better yet, an academic coach, would be helpful.”

Hodges said that THINC has requested a sound system to warn students of danger and has worked with the school system on making that a reality.

She said in 2015, THINC engaged stakeholders, board members, the cabinet and the top priority outlined was NCAC accreditation, which has not been obtained.

“The value of that accreditation cannot be overstated. It validates the quality of our program and provides us with a meaningful course to improve. Much of what we’ve done in the last three years is in pursuit of that accreditation,” she said.

Hodges said the pursuit of the NCAC accreditation included private-fund investment in professional development and training for teachers.

“Unfortunately, rather than hearing conversations and visioning to executive the strategic plan, lately we are hearing discussions that would undermine the accreditation process, specifically attempts to strip THINC of academics and proposed reorganization to allow Troup County School System leadership to supervise and evaluate our senior staff,” Hodges said.

“As you know, we cannot allow anything to jeopardize the integrity of our program or to reinvent THINC into a different model, effectively taking away the ‘s’ and the ‘m’ from STEM as we know it. I don’t believe these discussions are malicious or intentionally destructive, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Hodges said the key is working together with the school board and other entities to ensure students receive the best experience at THINC possible.

“What we need is to engage in a truly collaborative planning process,” Hodges said.

“We’ve outgrown our three-year-old plan. The NCAC accreditation can be achieved, STEM certification can be achieved and charter recertification can be achieved where everybody wins. The students win, the teachers win, Troup County Schools win, the principals win and business and industries win. I know together we will find that path.”