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Washington County BOE Cuts Ribbon on Academy

The ribbon has been cut at Washington County School District’s Innovative Gifted Accelerated Learning (IGAL) Academy. The Academy will be a place that elementary school students will rotate through and experience problem and project-based learning with a heavy emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Students do not need to be gifted in order to qualify to participate. Students will partake in curriculum that will include coding, robotics, hydroponics, and forensics during their rotations through the building. It will also be the home of the district’s new culinary arts program.

This project has been the culmination of 3 years of planning. The building was originally a youth detention center and was purchased by the Board of Education for $1.00. After the procurement of the property, the Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood architecture firm began collaborating with the Board of Education designing the vision of the IGAL Academy space.

“We wanted the space to welcome creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. We wanted it to encourage out of the box thinking. I appreciate our leadership who dares to try something different,” IGAL Director, Pam Mathis, stated. After many meetings fleshing out the design and curriculum, Carroll Daniel Construction was chosen to bring the project to life.

While shipping delays and supply chain issues impacted the initially planned opening date, the district plans to have students occupying the space in January or February of 2023. When asked what the IGAL Academy meant to him, Chris Hutchings, Chairman of the Board of Education, plainly stated, “This is a symbol of the commitment to the children of Washington County. It will provide pathways for our children to compete with others in the world.”

The event was also attended by Representative Mack Jackson who was instrumental in the Board of Education obtaining the building. “The work that we do is really all about the students. Back in 2019, the Board of Education was presented with an opportunity by Representative Mack Jackson, and collectively made the decision to capitalize on the opportunity to obtain this YDC building. We wanted to change the history from punishment to innovation and transformation,” Dr. Rickey Edmond, Superintendent stated.

The school district states that this building is only the beginning and intends to remain laser focused on the development of the whole child. “This is the foundation for ensuring the students of Washington County School District are competitive in a global society and ready for this fourth industrial revolution,” Dr. Rickey Edmond explained.

The district plans on hosting an open house for the building in early 2023 for community members to experience the academy as the students will.

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