Student Success of the SOAR Program

The Student Opportunity for Academic Recovery (SOAR) Program is designed for students in grades 6 through 8 who are over the traditional middle school age because of retention, truancy or other challenges. The goal of the SOAR Program is to provide academic recovery in the form of a pathway for students to complete middle school and transition into high school courses. Students have been very successful in the SOAR Program.

  • 80% of students enrolled for the full SOAR semester in Spring 2019 remained in SOAR.
  • 70% of the students enrolled for the full SOAR semester increased engagement and successfully passed courses.
  • 100% of students enrolled for the full SOAR Fall 2020 remained in the SOAR Program.
  • In January, 2020, 8 Middle School SOAR students were promoted to High School SOAR courses to begin earning credits towards graduation.

Congratulations to our dedicated and hardworking SOAR students who keep continuing to excel in this program!

About the SOAR Program

The Middle School SOAR Program began at PALCS in January 2019. SOAR creates an accelerated schedule, content-based, and project-based courses so that students have the ability to acquire the knowledge and skills needed in the real world. SOAR teachers work incredibly hard to prepare these students. They are taught to create personal and professional goals, becoming critical thinkers, problem solvers and working hard to close the learning gaps they bumped into in their prior school years.

The Middle School SOAR Program sets high expectations for the students to complete grade-level, project-based work, with the purpose of preparing them for high school courses. Daily Virtual Lesson and weekly meetings are required, and small class sizes allow for small-group and individual Lesson Help time on a daily basis.

How the SOAR Program differs from Traditional PALCS Courses

SOAR courses differ from traditional PALCS courses. Each grade level will be completed in half a school year, accelerating the transition to high school. Content areas will be blended together (Math/Science, and Language Arts/Social Studies); while foundational skills and concepts of each content area will be taught in separate lessons or modules, thematic units and projects will use a cross-curricular approach, combining content from multiple disciplines.

Eligibility for the SOAR Program

Students eligible for the Middle School SOAR Program must meet one or more of the following criteria: are over the traditional age for their middle school grade, may turn 21 years old before their high school graduation date, have been retained for one or more school years, or are at-risk for being retained in their current grade.

Hear from Ms. Amy Sarno, SOAR Program Coordinator:

Ms. Sarno says that she is proud of the Middle School SOAR students who have now progressed to high school courses. “This program has been a huge motivator for students who felt they did not have a way to “catch up” with their peers; now that they are finally beginning to earn high school credits, the pathway to graduation is clear.”

Next, Ms. Sarno shares one of the greatest rewards of teaching at PALCS. “Having the opportunity to find innovative ways to help students when they are struggling or have fallen behind their grade level. With the Middle School SOAR Program, we have been able to personalize student learning and engage both students and parents in taking ownership of their education. It is exciting to see students regain their confidence and make progress!”

Hear from Mr. Shawn Voyten, SOAR Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher:

Mr. Voyten says that the Middle School SOAR Program, “has been a wonderful opportunity to see students take responsibility and ownership of their education. The program offers an innovative way for students to set goals for themselves and take the steps necessary to accomplish them. One of the best things about SOAR is how closely we are able to work with each student.

He adds, “I have loved the ability to work so closely with the SOAR students and see the success that they have had. I think it is a great opportunity for them to be creative and show how off their strengths.”

Hear from Lori Lindsay a SOAR Students Parent:

Lori Lindsay, the parent of Jonathan Lindsay, a student who has been promoted from the Middle School SOAR Program to High School SOAR courses has been very impressed with the second chance for her son’s education. “We have been so pleased with the SOAR Program and all of the help that the teachers provided for our son. The teachers were always ready and willing to help him anytime he needed through the virtual lesson help.”

She adds, “Our son’s education has really flourished since being a part of the SOAR Program. We have been so happy with PALCS in general!”

Keeping the teacher-student ratio small also means that the teachers are able to offer a lot of one-on-one help and give quick feedback on assignments. In Ms. Sarno’s position as the coordinator she is communicating with students and parents multiple times a week as well as contacting them as soon as issues arise. The Middle School SOAR students and parents have noted that this much connection has been supportive.

The Middle School SOAR Program will be open to students in grades 7 and 8 in the 2020-2021 school year. There will be sessions beginning each Fall and Spring. Enrollment into the program will open in the late Spring of 2020. For more information, please contact Amy Sarno, SOAR Program Coordinator: Again, another congratulation to our Middle School SOAR students who have successfully passed each of their courses and will be moving onto high school courses next year!