Changing the climate at New Hope Academy

BALTIMORE - Students are presenting oral presentations in U.S. History class at New Hope Academy.  Things were not always good at the school formerly known as Joseph C. Briscoe Senior High School.

It was a troubled school with many problems.

"We were able to form a partnership to improve what we are running here at New Hope as a public school, but using the expertise of the non public entity that specializes in these children," said Kim Hoffman, Baltimore City Public Schools Interim Director of Special Education.

New Hope Academy started in 2008 as a partnership between Specialized Education Services Incorporated and Baltimore City Public Schools.  The middle and high school serves 200 students with emotional disabilities.

The partnership moved the school from chaos to success.  Under the transition, attendance, graduation rates and academic scores are all up.

"Teachers got to work with each student when students had a tough time with behavior.  The staff stuck with them and made sure they made them feel proud of the work they were doing," said James Young, Senior Director at New Hope Academy.

J'Nae Austin, a sophomore, says the school has been a big help in her life.

"I think I got better academically and well I think they help me control my anger problems that I had no matter how upset I am or disrespectful I am to them, they never seem to give up on me," said J'nae Austin, student at New Hope Academy.

Rhonda Wallington's granddaughter recently graduated and attends college. She says New Hope Academy had a big impact on her granddaughter.

"Had it not been for New Hope and I can say this from the deepest part of my heart, Alexis would have been on a street corner or she would have got hooked up with some guy that didn't mean her any good.  She probably would have been on drugs, but what they did here at this school, they held my hand. They led me through the process," said Wallington.

Last year New Hope Academy was awarded the most improved school culture by Baltimore City.


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