Jackson County Public Schools District Information

Our Schools

Freshman Academy

The Smoky Mountain High School Freshman Academy program is in its second year, and every freshman at SMHS is a part of the program. It has been designed to help students with the important transition from 8th grade to 9th grade.

It was created by SMHS faculty and administration specifically for our students, and we believe this organic approach gives us a unique perspective and platform to reach incoming 9th graders.

The Freshman Academy has three main components:

1. Freshman Core Classes and Teachers

All freshmen have a group of stellar core teachers to support their learning. Teachers meet biweekly to discuss classroom techniques and ways to support freshmen in their academic courses. These core courses include math, English, social studies, and science.

2. Freshman Incentive Program

An important part of the Freshman Academy is the incentive program. Freshmen earn points in their core classes and can use those points to participate in a variety of activities including sports passes to SMHS games, classroom incentives, movie nights, restaurant trips, and a year-end trip to Dollywood. Students are rewarded for their great in-class behavior and their desire to do well. In addition to this program, there are many other opportunities to be intrinsically motivated at SMHS.

3. Freshman Coordinator

The freshman coordinator is a member of the SMHS faculty whose entire job is to administer the Freshman Academy program and work directly with freshmen. The freshman coordinator is not a counselor (freshmen are each assigned to a guidance counselor as well), but coordinates all services that freshmen receive including working with them to achieve good grades and communicating student progress with parents.

First year Freshman Academy Successes

During the first year of Freshman Academy implementation, discipline referral rates among freshmen decreased from a 61 percent referral rate from the previous year to a 21 percent referral rate. Math 1 EOC exam scores skyrocketed 11 percent, up 10 points from the previous year. The number of classes that freshmen failed also decreased by one percent. SMHS will work hard to increase these gains in the coming years so that all freshmen can have a successful and rewarding high school experience.

For more information about Freshman Academy, please call (828) 586-2177, ext. 2500.