Cherokee highlights programs that contributed to 'Level 5' distinction

Jeff Bobo • Oct 1, 2019 at 9:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE – Cherokee High School celebrated earning its second consecutive “Level 5” Tennessee Value-Added Assessment by hosting a tour for Central Office staff and the media on Sept. 20 to showcase some of the programs that help make the school successful.

Scores from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) measure student annual academic growth, compared to the performance of their peers in previous testing. Programs are graded on a scale of 1-5, with Level 5 being the highest possible score.

Former Cherokee Principal Thomas Floyd, who took over as the county’s high school supervisor this school year, said during the Sept. 20 tour it's quite an honor to earn Level 5  status in two consecutive years.

“The third year before that we were a Level 3 school,” Floyd said. “It speaks to the commitment of the faculty and staff here, and speaks highly of the students who are sitting in the seats. We're just incredibly proud.”

Floyd added, “(Cherokee's) Level 5 was on the growth end. The state targets where kids should (score), and that goal was met and exceeded. Our kids really knocked out the top of the growth measure on EOC (end of course) examinations.”

“The Cherokee staff is to be commended”

Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson, who participated in the Sept. 20 tour, said he is proud of Cherokee's staff and students for the academic growth they accomplished last year to earn their second consecutive Level 5 distinction.

“CHS staff and administration defined clear growth and achievement goals last year and stayed the course,” Hixson said. “I am especially proud of their continued efforts in CTE (career technical education), which provides our students increased training in high demand fields within industry, many of which are local. The Cherokee staff is to be commended for their efforts last year. I look forward to seeing what they can do in the future.”

Several programs were highlighted during the Sept. 20 tour, although the greatest emphasis was placed on CTE programs, which graduated more than 140 students last year with professional certificates.

There was also a spotlight placed on dual enrollment opportunities, which allow Cherokee students to graduate with as many as 33 college credits already in their pockets.

Walters State dual enrollment partnership

Cherokee Assistant Principal Vakisha Henard noted that the state expects high schools to prepare “Ready Graduates.”

At Cherokee, however,  they call it “Mobuck Ready.”

“Part of that is making sure students get all the opportunities they can for dual enrollment,” Henard said. “Walters State is a great partner. They came in and painted the room, put our logo on the wall and gave us desks and chairs to make it feel like it's a college classroom. Our students actually get to stay here on campus, but they feel like they're in a college setting and use this room for college classes.”

Henard added, “They get two free (college) classes, and a half of another one, so we want them to use that. If you use dual enrollment, and AP, and the possibility of taking CLEP (college level examination program) testing, and the state dual credit, the possibilities are limitless. We've had students graduate with 32-33 (college credit hours).”

The Freshman Academy

In 2009, both Cherokee and Volunteer high schools opened their Freshmen Academies, which are freshman-only wings that separate that class from the upperclassmen.

“When I came to work here we would have 66-70 students fail freshman year,” Henard said. “That was common, so then students wouldn't graduate. Now we might have three students (annually) who don't make enough credits to be a sophomore. It's because this (Freshman Academy) environment is caring and nurturing, and helps them with that transition to high school.”

Henard added, “It helps them to focus. It helps them not to be distracted by the older students. They're not as mature. There's a big difference between a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old. It helps them gain that maturity before they go on and join everyone else.”

Career Technical Education programs

Assistant principal Byron Booker noted that Cherokee has 13 highly qualified CTE instructors.

“A lot of these folks came from industry, they are highly qualified, and they know their content,” Booker said.

Among the programs offered are architecture and engineering design; a variety of business classes; cosmetology; teaching as a profession; nutrition and dietetics; industrial robotics; culinary arts; auto mechanics; multiple health science courses; and new this year JROTC is considered a CTE program.

Also new this year is an Electro-Mechanical Technology pathway that replaces Industrial Electricity.

“(Electro-Mechanical Technology) will also include Industrial Maintenance, and it will include welding so our kids are going to have a broader context within that new pathway this year,” Booker said.

Cherokee’s health science program is a perennial winner in both the state and national SkillsUSA competitions.

Booker added, “I'm real excited about the health science lab. It allows our kids to have hands-on experience within the construct of what they're learning here. But we've also just received a grant so we're going to be able to upgrade our health science lab. … We will eventually become, probably by year's end, a testing site for the Certified Nursing Assistant certification.”

With Cherokee CNA candidates testing in their home lab, statistically they are 25-35 more likely to pass.

Students with disabilities

The Sept. 20 tour coincided with an event for students with disabilities titled “Youth Readiness Dream Building Day.”

The program was conducted by the Parent Training Information Center for Tennessee to conduct a youth readiness day for students with special needs and disabilities to get them ready for life after high school.

“They're going to have the opportunity to learn some social skills, they're going to be able to learn some self-advocacy skills for after high school, and different things like that so they can be successful after high school,” said assistant Cherokee Principal Amber Sands.