ACHS ‘Connect Academy’ makes huge gains

ACHS junior Travis Bingham, was recognized by Anderson County School Board members at their June Board of Education meeting for his noteworthy accomplishments in ACHS’s Connect Academy and for recently winning a statewide billboard artwork contest. Bingham is shown pictured standing in front of his billboard “Life grows from resilience,” a project for Children’s Mental Health month, with Kim Towe, Anderson County Schools Director of Special Education.
“With the help of his teachers, Travis has matured unbelievably. We are thrilled with how well he is doing and the fact that he won an award for his artwork is an even bigger accomplishment.

It shows how much this program has helped Travis,” said Chalice Bingham, an Anderson County resident, in a phone interview discussing his grandson Travis Bingham’s noteworthy progress in Anderson County High School’s Connect Academy and the satisfaction the Bingham family has with the hard work ACHS educators have put into helping Travis make such great strides in his educational development.

Travis Bingham, a junior in ACHS’s Connect Academy, was recently announced the winner of a statewide billboard art contest for Children’s Mental Health month. Travis participated in the art contest for Children’s Mental Health and was selected as the winning billboard design artist.

His art is now posted on billboards throughout Anderson County.

Chalice Bingham phoned The Courier News early last month and had an unusual request — unusual in the fact that such a request is seldom, if ever, made — he said he wanted to thank the teachers who helped his grandson make these achievements, but wanted to thank them in a way they would be recognized publicly for their efforts.

“The family is beyond pleased with the gains Travis has made as a student at ACHS, and we just wanted to thank the people for helping to make this possible: his teachers. I don’t think teachers get enough thanks and recognition for the work they do, when most of the time they are usually the ones who are often working behind the scenes to make great things happen. They should be thanked for what they do. They deserve it,” Bingham stated.

The teacher who works with Bingham is Theresa Taylor, who is in charge of the school’s Connect Academy, said Kim Towe, Director of Special Education and Support Services for Anderson County Schools, in an email interview in May.

“She [Theresa Taylor] does an amazing job with our students,” Towe said, praising Taylor for her dedication and hard work.

Towe also had words of praise for Bingham for making “great strides” in the program by referring to him as “an amazing young man” with plenty of determination and drive.

The incredible gains he has made was made possible “in part by our great teachers, family members, and Travis’ hard work,” commented Towe.

In June, at their regularly scheduled board meeting, the Anderson County Board of Education recognized the teachers and the students who are responsible for making the Connect Academy the successful program it has become.

The Connect Academy is a program ACHS launched a couple of years ago with the goal of giving students who need a little extra time with English and math individualized help from teachers so they do not fall behind.

“The teachers really instill in these students the belief that they can achieve gains,” said Andrea Russell, ACHS principal, to school board members during the June board meeting.

Connect Academy is innovative in the fact it is an original, homegrown program devised entirely by Anderson County School System educators.

It is the only kind in the state, and is not modeled after any other program, explained Dail Cantrell, Anderson County School Board Member for the 3rd district.

“We are the first school system in the state to develop this. The idea for this came up six years ago and took three years of planning to get it off the ground and figure out how it was going to work,” Cantrell said. “What Travis did is fantastic. He was selected to win out of the entire state. I think that is an outstanding accomplishment.”

Connect Academy is a program “we need to continue to push and to grow,” Cantrell added.

“We’ve got so many great programs out there that touch every student. I’m excited about what the future holds for these students,” commented Tim Parrott, Director of Anderson County School System.

According to Towe, ACHS students on the whole are driven to succeed.

“Students in the program work so hard. They are focused, they are driven, and it’s because these students want to make gains. I’ve worked in high school for years at different school systems and they, the students at ACHS, really want to succeed. If the students didn’t have the drive for it, it wouldn’t happen. We’ve got some really great kids,” Towe said.

Travis Bingham, along with ACHS students Callie Sharp and Ben Cantrell were recognized at the June school board meeting for their accomplishments in the program.

Sharp was lauded for making incredible gains in math, and Cantrell for increasing his reading level in the span of two years by more than five grade levels, an unheard of accomplishment, educators said.