MANSFIELD – GOAL Digital Academy is uniquely positioned to work with diverse students.
There is no GOAL student profile. Students choose GOAL for a variety of reasons. Some are severely credit deficient and at high risk of not graduating. Others have determined brick and mortar traditional schooling is not their preferred choice.
Some students are emotionally or medically fragile and cannot attend in-person learning. Still, others have families they are supporting as they complete high school, so they choose GOAL for its flexibility.
GOAL is not a one-size-fits-all.
"We are committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure our graduates are ready for their futures," said Casey Clark, GOAL Digital Academy's marketing manager. "Because we have such diverse backgrounds and living situations across multiple counties, GOAL's programming, structure, support mechanisms, and instruction are unique.
"Structurally we offer many opportunities for students to engage. We have our Learning Labs where students can access additional academic or emotional support. We offer many activities, clubs, and other opportunities for students to socialize with each other.
"Our staff is highly trained to differentiate instruction, individualize support and encourage students to engage in their education. We have educational advocates, mentors, and behavior therapists available to all students and we regularly check on everyone to make sure they are safe, engaged, and progressing."
Profiled here are three student stories that show how GOAL’s unique method of education is working and bringing success to students who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks in a typical classroom.
Ally Bellamy (GOAL Graduate)
GOAL Digital Academy graduate, Ally Bellamy, was born with Gastroschisis-A defect of the abdominal wall where her intestines were on the outside of her body. The day she was born she was sent immediately to surgery.
She has had 16 major abdominal surgeries since birth and had a port for intravenous feedings, a pacemaker for her stomach, a g-tube, and an ileostomy bag. Not surprisingly, her journey in education was not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Ally came to GOAL in October 2012 from Delaware City Schools at the beginning of her 9th grade year. Ally had significant health impairments that made it impossible for her to attend school in person.
GOAL Curriculum Director Cheri Nolting, who is now retired, would go to Ally's home to proctor state exams during mandatory testing.
During the five years that Ally attended GOAL she had over 50 hospital stays (some were multiple months) and was placed in a medically induced coma multiple times to help her body heal.
She was originally denied organ transplants but due to her determination and her mother’s continual "never say never" attitude, they were able to convince the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to give her a chance at life if her body accepted a stem cell transplant.
In her sophomore year, she became a stem cell recipient and later that year received a multiple organ transplant. Through her hard work and tenacious spirit, Ally graduated in the class of 2017, and she was the graduation speaker for her class.
“I can’t believe how far I’ve come in the past seven years since my transplants,” Ally said. “I wasn’t able to eat before my transplant and was honestly not convinced I’d get to graduate high school. I’m proud to be a transplant recipient and encourage anyone who isn’t an organ donor yet to sign up to become one.”
Ally’s home school teacher from Delaware City Schools, Diane Lucas, said, "Every time I think of her I get an overwhelming rush of emotions for so many reasons. Ally changed me in ways I never knew could happen - I love teaching, but I love the time with middle schoolers even more because of her.
"I was in the front row to watch and learn from a student with a medical condition who refused to let it stop her from being an integral part of our education process, mine and hers.”
Joshua Scott (Career Technical Education)
When Josh Scott started at GOAL Digital, he was dealing with a lot of anxiety. He struggled to complete work, interact with others and maintain his emotional balance. As he got more comfortable at GOAL, it turned into what seemed like a second home for Josh, according to Teacher and Intervention Specialist, Hope Losh.
“He became very involved with not only his schoolwork, socialized with students and staff, and also worked as an intern janitor in our building," Losh said. "He built relationships with students, staff and you would often see him introducing new students to the lab and helping them get acclimated.
“He always talked about how great GOAL was for him and told others how much they would like it here. Josh really grew up with us over the last several years and is now off at DACC, fulfilling his dream of law enforcement, and we could not be more proud. As glad as Josh was to have us, we feel lucky to know him and watch him grow."
Nicholas Brooks (JAG Program)
Nicholas Brooks came to our GOAL Digital Academy JAG program from Delaware Hayes High School as credit deficient, looking for another option to continue his education journey.
Nicholas took part in the State Career Development Conference, winning second place in the Employment Process Competition. He worked hard all year to fully make up the credits needed to graduate, and he received his diploma with the graduating Class of 2021.
Nicholas is now stationed with the United States Marine Corps on Paris Island, South Carolina where he has completed boot camp and is now in his Marine training program.
GOAL Digital Academy serves 12 counties in Central Ohio with its 7 Learning Labs, and celebrates students’ diverse learning styles, interests and talents by going beyond academics and providing students with well-rounded opportunities to meet new people and engage in their passions.
GOAL offers regular family education and networking opportunities and continually works to remove family or community barriers that impact student success.