Yerger Middle School Celebrates Opening of Revolutionary “School-Within-a-School” for 8th Graders


New Orleans, LA, April 4, 2023 . . . Hope, Arkansas’ Yerger Middle School today celebrated the opening of a Star Academy “school-within-a-school” serving its entire 8th grade class to help boost academic success, attendance and social skills in preparation for the coming high school years.

“What makes Star Academy special is that it integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into our core subjects,” said Yerger Middle School principal, Mike Radebaugh. “In the classrooms, when they study these subjects, they are able to relate them to careers that they integrate into their core classes.”

Star Academy takes a non-traditional approach to learning that has proven so successful, it has spread to 14 states and served over 20,000 students since its inception. Instead of the typical blackboard-and-lecture style of learning, Star Academy takes a project-based, STEM-driven approach to the core curriculum. Students experience hands-on projects that present knowledge in a form that captures their attention.

“What is different about these classrooms is that the students are leading the learning – there are many situations where the instruction of the educator drives everything we do in teaching and learning, and we lose the engagement of the kids, said Dr. Jonathan Crossley, Superintendent. “Over the course of the last few years, we have invested in different areas of our district which we have been very, very positive. There are world class students, there are world class practices taking place, and there are world class educators in this school.”

Star Academy also exposes students to potential careers, and ties what they are learning into these career tracks. For this reason, it has caught the attention of state and municipal authorities pushing for workforce readiness.

John Alvendia, CEO of NOLA Education (of Star Academy), had this to say about the ribbon-cutting: “It’s been an honor and privilege to work with Hope Public Schools and the staff at

Yerger Middle School to implement the Star Academy program. We are excited to play a small part in their strategic plan and are excited to watch students learn and grow through an innovative STEM approach in core academic.”

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