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Mountain Education Charter High School teaches life skills in ‘adulting’ seminars for students
Academies for Creative Education - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Teachers and mentors at Mountain Education Charter High School agree that they all have a wide variety of students, each with their own story to tell about why they chose the self-paced night school over a traditional high school.

Caleb Shoemake started attending MECHS because he said he could never really keep up with his classes at his old private school. But at the charter school, now located in the Academies of Creative Education building near downtown Cumming, Shoemake can take classes in his own time.

While he was falling behind in his classes before, now he is excelling academically, and after graduation, he has plans to move to California to become a firefighter and help with the wildfires that have wreaked havoc along the East Coast in recent years.

Anna Pratt also had her own reasons for coming to Mountain Ed.

“I love this school because I have social anxiety, which is one of the main reasons I couldn’t do a big public school,” Pratt said. “I just could never focus, and I couldn’t get work done …. I work better by myself or with one-on-one [instruction], which is why I love it so much here. I get to work at my own pace, and if I need help, there is always a teacher [around].”

Whatever the reason for being there, the site administrators, similar to principals at traditional schools, want to make sure all of their students feel welcome and are able to find the resources they need both on and off campus.

That was why, when it came time for the school’s two-week student appreciation celebration, they invited community members and business leaders to come speak to the kids for a series of “adulting” seminars.

Held through the final weeks of September, these seminars gave students the chance to learn more about everyday challenges like how to open a bank account, change a tire, apply for a loan, replace a car battery and stay safe on the internet and on social media.

Phil Schmidt, a site administrator, said they hope the seminars will help students learn new skills that they may not otherwise be learning at home or in class.

“Our push this year is to get a lot of those seminars in there to at least open the door to [life skills],” Schmidt said. “And the kids were asking some great questions about insurance fraud and all of this kind of stuff — things that they’ve heard of, but they have no idea. So they’ve been responding really well to the seminars we’ve been having.”

Aside from the adulting seminars, administrators also scheduled workshops to give students the chance to discuss and ask questions about scholarships and dual enrollment. Schmidt said he hopes these workshops also get students thinking about if they want to attend college.

As a treat to students, the school offered dinner each night during the workshops from partnering restaurants.

One night, students were able to munch on Subway sandwiches while learning about vehicle care during the “Mechanics for Dummies” seminar, and the next night, they stopped for a couple of slices of Pizza Hut and information about insurance and banking before heading off to class.

Throughout the two weeks, students also got to enjoy food from Chick-fil-A, Los Rios, Panda Express, Waffle House, Zaxby’s, Dairy Queen and Giorgio’s.

Site administrators said the workshops and seminars were a huge success for both students and families, and they hope to continue with them going into the future.

Mountain Ed workshops
Students and staff enjoy a frozen treat from Kona Ice following a seminar on work-based learning at Mountain Education Charter High School.