Lauderdale County's Innovano program offers alternate route to diploma
Kobe Clayton, a former Lauderdale County School District student, used the Innovano program and obtained a high school diploma three months ahead of his class. He found the online-based lessons helped him adjust to school work.
Kobe Clayton remembers going to school and how it was hard for him to adjust.
Clayton, who was relatively new to the area, thought it would be best for him to try something different as he tried to achieve his high school diploma so he entered the Innovano program that's offered through the Lauderdale County School District.
“I was behind on a few credits and they gave that program as an opportunity to graduate on time,” Clayton said.
Innovano is a Texas-based company that offers online instruction, providing services to public, private, charter and alternative schools. The program being offered through Lauderdale County schools is geared for individuals between the ages of 15-21 who dropped out of high school and for students struggling to meet graduation requirements.
In Innovano, 80 percent of the classes are online and students are provided a laptop with internet access. The program also provides one-on-one instruction and an on-site project manager to meet with students to discuss test results. Students do not attend classes at the schools.
Clayton was a transfer student from Nashville and was told about the program from his high school counselor. He attended a Lauderdale County school for a year and a half before trying the Innovano program.
Completing the program in three months, Clayton graduated before members of his class. Clayton said he found it easier to complete his work and the program was flexible for his schedule.“I think it is a lot better than regular school and it was a lot better for me to focus,” Clayton said.
Ken Hardy, director of curriculum, assessment and accountability for the Lauderdale County School District, said the program has been successful based on results from the program.Since October 2019, 12 former district students have graduated with a high school diploma. The district's graduation rate for the 2018-19 school year was 84 percent, according to The Mississippi Department of Education.
Thirty-five former school district students and 116 non-district students are enrolled in the program, Hardy said. The program includes students from outside districts. The total includes students who have dropped out or short on credits and youth who are in the criminal justice system who are pursuing a high school diploma, Hardy said.
Even though work is being completed online, students still receive a quality education from certified teachers, Antonio Washington, school director with Innovano, said.
Washington who said he has worked with students has recognized their needs. An important factor is looking beyond a student's past and helping them to succeed, he said. That makes an impact and changes lives, he said.
Clayton is planning to attend East Mississippi Community College at the Golden Triangle campus and he would like to become an electrician.
Clayton said he would recommend Innovano to anyone who is looking at alternative ways of obtaining a high school diploma.
“I think it is a good option for people who are behind," Clayton said. "If they get a chance to do it, then they should do it.”