BLECKLEY COUNTY, Ga. — Everyone loves a dancing robot, and Bleckley County Success Academy students are learning how to program all of its moves.

"When I was in normal school, we didn't have all of this. Now that I have all of this technology, I am able to learn a lot better," said 7th grader Micah Swenson.

It's the first week he's learning robotics from his teacher, Teresa Gray, as part of the school's new STEM program funded by an $80,000 state grant.

"It's really neat with watching him walk and how they are going to maneuver and see where they may [have gone] wrong and how they can correct to make him go in the right direction," Gray said.

Principal Michele Dyal says STEM opportunities are one of the ways they're trying to change the perception of alternative schools.

"It is a school much different than any other alternative school or most other alternative schools that you would visit. We are here to meet the needs of our students whether that be social and emotional, whether that's academic or whether that's behavioral," Dyal said.

"Some may not have a mother figure at home, some may not have a father figure at home. I try to take on that role, sometimes because they don't have that," Gray said.

Dyal and Gray say students dealing with outside problems benefit from their small class sizes, the one on one teacher-student interaction, and self-paced system.

"Our students, since 2014, have graduated from here. We have graduated over 100 students in that length of time. Last year we graduated 24 students, which is our largest graduating class," Dyal said.

"Everybody knows us by name, we know them by name and we're just close knit and that's how we like it," Gray said.

The state grant also paid for an intensive reading course, which is part of their STEM program.

An outside instructor comes in to help teachers learn individualized techniques to help students who are on different reading grade levels.

Bleckley County Success Academy started as a high school program in 2011 before it became it's own school serving grades 6-12 in 2014.

MORE SCHOOL OF THE WEEK

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