In 1994, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (WMAES) opened their doors and became one of the first charter schools in Michigan. That school year, they welcomed 122 students.
But, that was just the start to their story.
Fast forward 22 years, WMAES has become a leading academy representing the Choice Schools Associates brand – and for good reason!
Since opening, the academy has grown and now serves more than 700 preschool through twelfth-graders on their 62-acre campus. They have been receiving special accolades for their academic accomplishments since their inception, and this year is no different!
On February 9, 2016, Bridge Magazine released their ratings for the 2015 High School Academic State Champs. Among those in the large-sized counties with middle income status, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science received a third-place standing and exceeded expectations with a State Champs score of 109.
“It’s all about an expectation level,” said secondary principal Scott Morgan. “There are no short-cuts. Hard work is needed on everyone’s part – the staff, students, family and school community.”
The Bridge Magazine High School Academic State Champs scorecard is compiled based on the percentage of students who are college ready, school performance on the ACT, and is adjusted for income. These stricter benchmarks come from recent changes in the state’s testing.
“To me, this ranking means that we are doing what we are here to do,” Anne Hoekstra, longtime high school educator, explained. “We are here to teach young adults and to give them the knowledge and confidence to perform well.”
“I believe the key to helping students is to first get them to own their results and effort,” Jason Chronister, a high school math teacher with WMAES, commented. “I use the term Ganas, loosely translated to mean desire, in my class. I tell my students that ‘I can want it for you to the moon and back, but you have to want it, too!’ And these scores prove that they want to put forth the effort.”
West Michigan Academy has come a long way since their inaugural year. Their student population has grown dramatically, their school structure has changed with the addition of their high school grades, and their academic performance has greatly increased.
“A lot has changed since the beginning. We’ve implemented ACT (now SAT) prep courses for our students, and an after school Academic Acceleration to further assist students,” continued Hoekstra. “Time is spent looking at our struggling students, calling home to make sure all is well there, and implementing strategies for intervention to ensure the success of all our students.”
“All of us have put in a lot of time and effort to get where we are today,” said Chronister. “I remember a time when we weren’t on a list like this, and we, as teachers, struggled to get students to learn the content we were teaching. With Scott Morgan’s leadership, we have grown to be a school that we are proud to be a part of, and that the students are proud to be a part of!”
According to Scott Morgan, it isn’t just the leadership, teachers and students that have made this possible, but those behind the scenes as well. “Choice Schools Associates and our Board of Directors have given us the freedom to do what is best for our students,” explained Morgan. “We aren’t pushed into a cookie-cutter educational process that is standard and inefficient. If we need to change initiatives or mechanisms to better our system, we are given that freedom.” He continued, “they support our staff to do what they are passionate about, and what we are best at – providing an excellent educational opportunity with Choice!”
Want to learn how Choice can help your school achieve this level of success? Contact our Vice President, Sarah Wildey, directly at sarahwildey[at]choiceschools.com. We can’t wait to hear from you.