STAR Academy making a difference at Magnolia Middle School


Magnolia Middle School eighth grader Mariah Young used to struggle with her classes and her grades.

“I don’t know, the teachers didn’t really explain it really well and the work was really hard for me,” Mariah said of her previous experiences with school.

The official ribbon cutting at Magnolia Middle School’s STAR Academy.

But beginning this year, that has changed for Mariah and 75 other students who are members of the school’s STAR Academy. STAR Academy is a dynamic hands-on, STEM-based program proven to advance and inspire students who will thrive in a non-traditional learning environment, according to materials from

“I like the STAR Academy because it’s fun, you get to do experiments,” Mariah said. “My grades are better—this year my grades are on top. I like the work.”

In November, several representatives of the NOLAEducation, LLC., which coordinates the Star Academy, along with Magnolia School District faculty and staff and community members were in Magnolia for a ribbon cutting at Magnolia Middle School. The ceremony was to celebrate the programs first year of being on campus.

Magnolia Middle School Assistant Principal Crissy Klober spearheaded the effort on campus of working with NOLAEducation, LLC., to bring STAR Academy to the campus. She said there were originally 80 students enrolled in the program at the beginning of the year, but due to some scheduling conflicts with extra-curricular activities, four students were unable to stay with the program.

Klober describes STAR Academy as a platform for students to learn with hands on activities in modules. She said there are 10 modules to complete as well as some other hands-on activities in the classroom.

“The modules also allow the students to see what career paths are available with the subject matter tied to the modules,” Klober said. “These students are students who excel with hands-on activities versus a more traditional classroom setting.”

Klober said the district and middle school teachers are excited to see the growth these students experience in this setting.

“We look forward to a successful year with the program. As for the future we plan to add seventh grade to the program next year so that students experience two years of hands-on activities,” she said. “Students receive math, history, English, and science through STAR Academy and participate in their chosen electives such as sports, choir, band, agriculture, art, physical education.”

Robin Mussa, vice president of NOLAEducation, LLC., said other cities with schools which already have STAR Academies in Arkansas include Pine Bluff, Blytheville, Strong and Osceola. Camden Fairview is set to have a STAR Academy at its middle school next year, Mussa said.

Magnolia School District Superintendent John Ward told those in attendance for the STAR Academy Ribbon Cutting that he thought it was a great program for the middle school and was happy it was helping students learn in a new way.

“It was not a coincidence at all that I crossed paths with (Robin Mussa) last February,” at a conference. “This is an opportunity for education in a different setting.”

Ward praised Klober for her determination to see to it that STAR Academy became a reality on the middle school campus. She said Klober had to do some creative scheduling and many meetings with Mussa to make sure the program was implemented, and everything was in place.

“We challenged Ms. Klober to do this, and she has done an amazing job,” Ward said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Written By: Becky Bell, Reporter, Magnolia Reporter

Release Date: December 15, 2022

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