ACE is the Place

by | Bella Herrera



ACE, or the Academy of Creative Education, is an alternative learning school in the NEISD district that aims to aid students who have struggled in the typical school environment. ACE was created in 1991 as a solution for students who were at risk of dropping out. ACE gives students a low-stress environment that caters to their needs. A majority of the students attending ACE enrolled due to the problems they faced with regular schooling and found ACE to be the best solution to those problems. 


“The halls of ACE are barren and peaceful, filled wall to wall with the smiling faces of our graduates, proudly pasted on the wall for the world to see. The classrooms are quiet and homey, decorated well with obvious care and personality, and even house a couple pets. We have a black lab named Chevy that roams the ACE building owned by our beloved English teacher, Mrs. Jhul. And our Physics teacher, Mr. Larson, has two fish tanks sitting on top of the desks that line the wall of his classroom,” junior Bruce Beasley said. “The table is wide enough for you to work with your laptop while sitting right in front of the tanks, and if you ask Mr. Larson, he´ll even let you feed them. They don’t have official names but I’ve been calling them the 4 fish,” Beasley said.


The first aspect of ACE that makes it unique is that it has a flexible start time. While the rest of the schools in the district start at 8:50 sharp, students attending ACE can choose to show up from 7:15 a.m. all the way until 10:15 a.m. The only requirement is that they must stay for 4 hours. If students arrive at 9:00, they can leave as early as 1:00 p.m. This system allows students to have more free time and can aid in students living more enriching lives, leaving time in the day for things like a job, spending time with family or friends, or even just for a few more hours of sleep.


“You can show up at any time between 7:30 and 10:15. If you show up after that, you can still come in, you just have to sign in at the office. You have to complete four hours and then you can go home whenever you want, but you can only stay until 2:00. I get off School around 1 every day and I wake up later than my sister, who got to catch the bus at 8:20,” Beasely said.


Students work through their classes relatively at their own pace, being given 30 days to finish 2 courses before the deadline, each counting for half a credit. However, they can choose which courses you take together and when you decide to take them. This gives students the absolute freedom to fine-tune their schedules to fit their needs, adding to the efficiency that ACE provides for students who are ready to graduate.


¨The work is self-paced, and if you finish it early, you can just move on to the next class. How long a class takes is entirely up to you. Unlike traditional schools, where you have to wait for months for a semester to end, at ACE you can finish a class and earn the credit very quickly,” Beasley said. “But since you’re only doing 2 at a time as opposed to 7, if you take too long to finish a course you can fall behind even further than traditional schools. That’s why the optimal selection of students that qualify for ACE are seniors and juniors, who may only need a few more classes to graduate.”


One of the things that ACE is probably best known for is the relaxed attitude it brings. Students find this approach to teaching beneficial because it allows them to be comfortable enough to admit when they need help, and therefore gives them a better understanding of the material being taught to them.


¨Every teacher is patient and respectful, as well as genuinely good at their jobs, they make it an environment where it’s easy to just walk up and ask questions. They also make it easy to tell the truth. Everyone has that moment where a teacher comes up to you and asks if you understand, and you tell them yes, but you actually have zero idea what’s going on,” Beasley said. “You just don’t want them to know you don’t know what’s going on. At ACE, everyone’s going at a different pace all the time, so you start a class knowing a teacher will be ready to help you with whatever you’re specifically struggling with.”


Ace is definitely different from what’s typical for a school, but for students who are also a bit different, ACE gives them the chance to finish high school in a way that is suited for them and their unique needs.


¨It’s perfect for students who want to graduate early, and don’t mind if the classes aren’t higher level courses,” Beasley said. “If you want to get high school over with, come eat a donut with the ACE student body.¨

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