Mountain Education Spotlight
By Katie Wheeler, Canton Resident
In September 2020 Mountain Education Charter High School (MECHS) opened its Cherokee County campus, the newest of eighteen across seven counties in north Georgia.
MECHS addresses the fact that an eight-hour school day with classes of up to thirty-five students isn’t the best arrangement for all young people. Various learning styles, unexpected life situations, and unavoidable responsibilities can leave some students struggling. MECHS campuses, however, boast a fourteen-to-one student-teacher ratio, operate in the evenings, and give students the opportunity for credit recovery and dual enrollment. The school meets a distinct need and brings to the North Georgia region its mission: “To provide a second chance opportunity for students across North Georgia to earn an accredited high school diploma in a student-centered, self-paced, evening public high school.”
Mountain Education provides an enjoyable environment for students, with games and prizes most nights. At the Cherokee campus and others, dinner is available to students as well. Many local restaurants recognize the value of an adaptive learning experience and partner with the school to provide evening meals free to students. On the Braggin’ Wagon, a food truck, members of the district office come to the campuses, cook for the students, and brag about them for their progress.
To promote career readiness, Career Chats are also hosted periodically for students to hear from community members about potential paths.
Each time students complete a course, they receive a letter and small prize mailed to their home as yet another way to celebrate their progress. For each course completed, students are entered to win a larger drawing at the end of the month. Students can win gift cards and larger prizes donated by local partners who support the MECHS mission.
The Cherokee Campus opened with virtual learning in September of last year, starting with around thirty students. The campus has grown rapidly and now serves more than 340 students. MECHS celebrated 370 graduates in 2020, with its first graduate of the Cherokee campus in January of this year. Several more Cherokee students are only a handful of credits away from graduation.