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Tift Academy makes student's dream possible

When he was 10 years, Gage Linville was ranked as the fastest motocross rider in the world for his age. He’s now (13) and is pursuing his dream of turning pro. He will quickly tell you Tift Academy is helping to make that possible.

Tift Academy is the online class program offered by Tift County Schools. It offers students the chance to attend school virtually, providing students like Gage the opportunity to get their education when a standard classroom setting isn’t right for them.

“If I was in a regular classroom from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., none of this would even be possible,” Gage said.

Motocross demands hours of practice and work-outs every day, as well as travel time. Gage’s parents wanted their son to be able to do what it would take to compete nationally, but knew he still needed a quality, accredited education. They had been in the Tift County Schools System and wanted that to continue because they valued a public education. They found the perfect fit with Tift Academy.

“If you don’t get your school work in, you don’t get to ride,” he said. “You’ve got to be committed. With Tift Academy, I can log in to the website from anywhere to make sure I’m getting my work done. I can even work to get ahead.”

“Tift Academy follows all rules and regulations of the Georgia Department of Education, Tift County Schools’ Policies/Procedures and the Tift County Code of Conduct,” said Brandelyn House, online learning coordinator. “Tift Academy offers rigorous, state-accredited, online courses. The Tift County Board of Education maintains that face-to-face instruction remains irreplaceable. However, students today need choices and flexibility. Tift County Schools is proud to provide Tift Academy as an option."

The program is free for all students who would qualify to be a Tift County student.

House said Tift Academy is different from Blended Learning, which involves some online instruction and some face-to-face instruction. A Tift Academy student takes two or more of his/her courses online, off-campus or takes 100 percent of Tift County courses online, off-campus.

The program is open to students in grades 7 – 12. Those participating in Tift Academy will graduate with a diploma from Tift County High School. That was one aspect that attracted Gage and his family to the program. He would get to graduate with the students he had been in class with through the years.

To be a Tift Academy student, House said the student must submit an enrollment request form available at www.tiftschools.com/tiftacademy. The request then goes to the school counselor, principal and then House for approval.

House meets with the parents, student and counselor to decide what the best plan is for the student.

She said there has been positive feedback from students who can work whenever, wherever. There are multiple pacing options — maintain scheduled pace or accelerated pace. Students work independently and remain on pace, meet with House three to four times during the semester, report to campus for final exams and state exams and attend mandatory advisement sessions. Parents are encouraged to supervise student activity and monitor progress.

House said the curriculum is very rigorous and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approved. There is a set list of courses. The online offerings are powered by the program Edgenuity and are state-approved.

House said if a Tift Academy student wants to participate in any extracurricular activity, he/she must take at least one course on campus.

"Tift Academy students are still our students. They still can come use our libraries, use our facilities. They still get the mandatory advisement that any other student gets in addition to meeting with me and me watching over them and making sure that things are what they're supposed to be," House said.

House said tutoring is available for Tift Academy students — face-to-face or virtual. She said there are safeguards in place so that if they find that something is wrong, she will meet and come up with a plan for that student and place them wherever they feel like they need to be so they can be successful.

Visit www.tiftschools.com/tiftacademy to learn more.