The truth about Journeys Academy


photo by Journeys Website

Journeys Academy mural and motto on the side of one of their outside walls.

“Before making a conclusive judgement, feel the environment… these are not bad students or bad people.”
As the alternative school in Seminole County, the Journeys Academy began serving students in fourth through 12th grade in 2010. Every school district offers alternative programs, which are provided by the public schools.
Similar to a magnet school, Journeys staff members focus on a set concentrated actions to help select students. Journeys specifically provides an academically sound education, positive behavior supports, opportunities and structure.
“I believe we should have more schools in our district that cater directly to the students needs,” dean Roy Decosta said.
The first thing people associate with Journeys Academy is discipline. Journeys is a different solution to positively impact and support the academic and emotional growth of a student.
Students may be enrolled into Journeys for a variety of reasons, such as constant fighting or possession of alcohol or drugs. The decision, if it is an option for students to attend Journeys will be up to administrators who review the evidence they have and the student’s history of discipline. If it is mandatory for the student to be sent to Journeys, then staff will contact the district to receive directions on what to do.
Journeys’ goal after receiving students is to send each student back to their zoned school on time and on target for their academic success. The minimum amount of time a student attends Journeys will be a semester. This time can be prolonged if the student fails any of the three basic rules: behavior, academics and attendance.
Journeys follows the same curriculum as the rest of the Seminole County, but they do not offer as many classes or subjects as a regular school, solely based on the limitations of size. If a student needs a class or level that Journeys does not offer, the staff works with Seminole County Virtual School to assign classes. Some students have more lab time than others, depending on their needs.
Rather than meeting with a counselor once a month or a couple times a semester, students and their families will meet with their counselor once a week to keep students on track academically and behaviorally. Focusing on keeping them in the school system and applying customized care helps young adults become productive and fulfilled adults.
“Students deserve a second chance after making bad choices,” Journeys’ principal Kenneth Bevan said.
The people who work at Journeys choose to focus on helping students where they have identified themselves as needing the most help. They look for ways to build positive relationships and believe students can feel the difference between a caring adult and one that is just going through the motions.
“I’m proud of the dedication, persistence, and creative love our faculty and staff operate with,” Bevan said.
Every school is required to take a yearly survey that will reflect the environment and relationships in the school. The Journeys survey (taken by students, faculty, staff and parents) results reflecting the climate are among the top five in the district — compared to all schools at all levels.
Based off of their success rate as an alternative school, later this month, Journeys staff members will be presenting at a Department of Education conference about how to best serve students who have made bad choices.
“Learning from mistakes is an important part of growth and development… the best quality of our school is our unity in building esteem for a common purpose,” Bevan said.