Albemarle County Changing Academies to Communities

New communities will change curriculum of course


Tinder is excited for the new changes coming to the program

Maria Kinnan, Staff Writer

The Environmental Studies Academy (ESA) here at Western is one of the many academies across the county that focus on a specific four year long curriculum for students interested in certain fields.  But recently, Albemarle County has started transitioning from academies to “pathways”, otherwise known as Career Learning Communities (CLC).

There are three academies across Albemarle County, the Health and Medical Science Academy at Monticello, ESA at Western, and the Math, Engineering, and Science Academy at Albemarle. In past years, students have applied to them in eighth grade, and if admitted, would start the program in ninth grade and stay in it for the rest of their high school career.  However, this is no longer the case. 

The county plans to replace the academies with CLCs.  These will start during students’ sophomore year of high school, which means they will apply in their freshman year.  The future CLC at Western, the Environmental Studies Career Learning Community, will change their curriculum from ESA’s present curriculum.

“The classes that are required for ESA are not going to be the same that are required for career learning communities,” Dawn Tinder, the current ESA Director, said.  “We’re going to open it up with a natural resources class, and then there’ll be three pathways within this pathway, including forestry and horticulture, and then it’ll culminate with a capstone class, [that] will probably probably be [the] Lit Law and Policy [class that] is already in place.” 

Although these new changes may cause a little unease, Tinder is optimistic, and excited for the new program.

“ [I’m excited about] adding wildlife and forestry into what we already have here.”  

The purpose of the CLCs is to let more students participate in the program and allow them to explore more specific interests in the environmental studies field. 

“The goal of the new communities as opposed to an academy is to be more inclusive, [..] [and] allow more students in Albemarle County to take part in an academy feel, but it’s not actually an academy model, it’s a different kind of model.”

These changes will not affect the current ESA students, Tinder said.  The students currently enrolled in the academy will finish the program as an academy, and will not be a part of the new CLC.  

“It won’t affect them at all.”