“The one thing this school doesn’t have is extracurricular activities. This year we have tried to improve opportunities for students. We had some art classes and Georgia College Art Tank offered classes last semester. [Georgia College Art Department Chair] Dr. Bill Fisher also held a silk screening workshop to allow students to place prints on their own shirts,” said Virginia Stoik, a Georgia College graduate student who recently completed her residency. “We use extra curricular activities as incentives for the kids and motivate them to continue to do good. It exposes them to positive things and teaches them how to be a good team player and work together. We’re trying to get more people to volunteer to offer different extracurricular activities and do more community-based things, but due to the lack of funds, we can’t do much.”
With 10 classrooms located at the main center, a satellite classroom is housed at the Early Learning Center and one in Johnson County for grades six through 12. Each year, Wolf said at least two students graduate high school with a special education diploma or sometimes even a regular education diploma.
“This school year, 122 students have come to GNETS, and 25 of those students have transitioned back to their home school. Also at least 10 students complete half a day at their home school and half at GNETS,” GNETS of Oconee Director Pat Wolf said. “We have a staff of about 25 support teachers and I appreciate them. People don’t realize how teachers are patient, therapeutic and really trying to make a difference in the lives of students.”
GNETS’ academic curriculum follows the same Common Core Georgia Performance Standards as the public school system, but behavior issues are handled differently in the smaller classroom environment.
“Most parents are very grateful because the problem started early in life and parents are not able to get it under control. In a regular school setting, even in special education, students don’t get the treatment they need,” Mosley said. “To have the students in a smaller environment, parents start seeing the transition and their child getting better behaviorally and academically. I think the program is very successful and we’ve been effective.”