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A Freshman Academy: A Story of Transition, Challenges, Community, and Success Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationA Freshman Academy: A Story of Transition, Challenges, Community, and SuccessWhile the transition from middle school to high school symbolized the coming of age, it is a time in a young person’s life that can create feelings of isolation, disconnect, and an immeasurable sense of loneliness (DeJong & Locker, 2006). The organizational structure found in most public high schools presented problems for many ninth graders as they made the transition to high school (DeJong & Locker, 2006). Analysis of research identified effective strategies aimed at creating a plan of success for ninth graders to include small learning communities and restructuring of traditional high schools (Cole, 2013; McMillan, 2012; Warden, 2011). Therefore, this study sought to follow the path of implementation of a freshman academy, review the success and challenges within the academy and gather personnel and parental perception of the academy.This basic descriptive qualitative study explored steps taken to implement a freshman academy, explored the positive and negative effects of the implementation, and the perception of the stakeholders regarding their role in the academy utilizing open-ended interview questions. Analysis of the data outlined the path of implementation and revealed three emerging themes: community, relationship, and consistency, interwoven throughout the experiences of all stakeholders. This final analysis revealed a small learning community providing the opportunity for students and staff to build trust among themselves and a network of relationships within the community.

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