James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) started implementing the National Academy Foundation (NAF) concept and program in the 2013 when it was introduced by the new principal Mr. Ogunbowale. The school went through the NAF Year of Planning and graduated in May of 2014 after successfully laying the foundation for full implementation starting in 2014 school year.
“NAF academies operate primarily in urban public school districts, and also thrive in many suburban and rural areas. NAF academies can take the form of small learning communities within larger schools or as stand-alone public high schools. NAF currently has academies in 21 of the 25 largest school districts in the United States. NAF academies are organized around one of five career themes – Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Health Sciences, or Engineering –viable industries with demonstrated growth and strong potential in the years ahead. In addition to core academic courses, students take industry-specific classes related to these themes and participate in work-based learning activities to put their lessons into action.”
Many of the students in urban settings need the added incentive to concentrate on education, and a reason to attend school in the first place, JMAC students are not different to this rule. Principal Ogunbowale believes that if students have something to shoot for at the end of their education, our students will have that incentive and reason to come to school regularly, act accordingly and achieve at a higher rate.
The age old question has been: “why are we doing this? This question will be answered for students by seeing the connection between what they are learning in class and the world of careers or future education. Students obtain certification when they complete the program; this certification can be used to secure immediate employment in the area of study, or be used as a resume to enter the higher education of choice.
Many business partners have been recruited to assist the school in getting the academy programs going, and they have shown interests and commitments to see to the success of the school. This is a win-win situation for the school, students, partners and community. The benefits that are anticipated include: improved attendance, improved student behavior and school climate, increase in community and partnership relations, and overall students achievement.
Our academies are basically ‘teaching our students how to fish’, and having specialists to show the way. JMAC has chosen two of the NAF pathways to focus on: Academy of Health Sciences and the Academy of Finance. Partners are lined up in hospitals, health professional services, major banks, universities and community colleges. These partners attend an advisory board meeting once a month and monthly committee meetings. JMAC is seeing some benefits already, and with hard work, support and dedication, our students will be very successful.
- Career Day – Professionals discuss their careers, what they do and the type of education required
- Tours and industry visits
- Job shadowing
- Project evaluation
- Classroom education
- Part time job or internship opportunities