If interest is any indication of success, the Innovation Academy opening next year in downtown Alpharetta is off to a strong start.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the four information meetings held in May for the STEM-focused school currently under construction on Milton Avenue where old Milton High School once stood. 

“The introductory Innovation Academy roadshow certainly met its goal,” said Fulton Schools Area Superintendent Kibbey Crumbley. “We wanted to start meeting prospective families and introducing our principal, Tim Duncan. We look forward to more information nights in the coming weeks and months.” 

The meetings provided parents and prospective students with the first in-depth look at curriculum, schedules, design and goals for the science, technology, engineering and math high school. 

The school has been on the Fulton School System drawing board for nearly three years as an option for students seeking a unique high school experience. It promises a curriculum deep in technology, innovation and collaboration to prepare students for the 21st century workforce.

Innovation Academy will open in August 2020 with an initial class of 450 freshmen, adding a freshman class for the next three years until the school capacity of 1,800 students is reached.

Applications for the first year will open Oct 6 and close Dec. 8. If applications exceed 450, a lottery will determine spots. There is no requirement to attend Innovation Academy, explained Doannie Tran, assistant superintendent of Innovative Programs, other than a strong interest and inclination for a STEM curriculum.

“The school will offer an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum co-developed with Georgia Tech, using real world applications that have meaning beyond the classroom,” said Tran, a former science teacher in California and Boston, and graduate of North Springs Charter High School.

The instruction will focus on “design thinking,” a problem-solving process where students define the problem, research problem elements, ideate, prototype, choose a solution, implement the solution, and learn from the process. An integrated curriculum means concepts will be addressed across all courses.

Tran described an example of a design challenge in which students would work in teams to design a tool holder that minimizes the risk of infection for patients. The project would utilize student knowledge in health care sciences, engineering, humanities and leadership strategies to successfully complete the assignment.

The school offers three career clusters — healthcare, information technology, and engineering —with career pathways leading to high demand jobs in surgical technology, emergency medical responder, nursing, computer programming, biotechnology, cybersecurity, game design, mechatronics and others.

Innovation Academy will be a magnet school with open enrollment to any student in North Fulton who is interested in a STEM education. A South STEM school will open in 2021 to serve the population south of the city of Atlanta.

To accommodate students who do not drive, the school will offer “sweep” buses that will pick up the student at their zoned high school and transport them to Innovation Academy.

Duncan will spend the next year preparing the school and staff for opening day in August 2020 and is excited about the interest in Innovation Academy and its unique approach to learning. He said the idea of design thinking has been well accepted.

“We were so excited to hear parents attest that design thinking is utilized in their workplace to collaborate, identify problems, and improve outcomes,” said Duncan, the former principal at Chattahoochee High School. “We look forward to building this important skill set with all the students at Innovation Academy. 

To get up to date information on the Innovation Academy visit  https://tinyurl.com/IANewsletterSignup.

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