BAMS program shows positive gains in first year of operation

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - When the Bullitt Advanced Math and Science program started, there were high expectations.

Nearing the end of its first year, program director Kelly Cleavinger could describe it in one word - fabulous.

Seventeen of the original 20 freshmen will complete the year and will be joined by 25 incoming ninth-graders next fall.

In making a presentation to the school board, Cleavinger joked that the major strength of the program is also its greatest weakness - all the students are gifted.

From a standpoint of taking tests and making good marks, Cleavinger said that it not a problem.

Of the three who have taken the ACT test, the average score was a 31, which is higher than the projected 28.

In MAP testing, assessments have grown by 10-point averages in science and five-point averages in math.

“It looks like what we are doing is working,” said Cleavinger.

In the first year, each of the students had a pair of math and science classes, as well as technology, electives and research projects.

Next year, courses like psychology and economics will be added to the mix. Students will also participate in internships to get better acquainted with the business community.

Cleavinger said the program’s relationship with Jefferson Community Technical College and Donna Miller has been fantastic and will only continue to grow.

Every Wednesday, a college counselor is at BAMS to work with students for four hours on their study skills.

He said the students test very well but they are still 14- or 15-year-old youngsters who are going through all sorts of changes. In terms of study skills and communications, Cleavinger said those are areas in which the youngsters need assistance.

With the college’s 12 by 12 program, Cleavinger said the faculty is already accustomed to working with high school students in their classes. He said the professors know how to deal with the emotions and issues of a teenager.

JCTC’s relationship with other colleges helps to find the right spot for the local students. Also, staff members know how to help students get ahold of other colleges.

Being able to teach young students requires certain skills and Cleavinger said JCTC has been committed to hire faculty who are able to provide those standards.

“It’s been a tremendous growth in eight months,” said Cleavinger.

Superintendent Keith Davis said he is very proud of the program and he credited Cleavinger for being the right person to lead the program.