School that takes in delinquent teens develops college, career prep program

ST. LOUIS – Innovative Concept Academy began as the only school in America overseen by a court system, dedicated to the rehabilitation of delinquent teens. The school has done well since 2009.  Now they are creating a college and career assurance program specifically designed for kids to excel in college.

Judge Jimmy Edwards, now the Public Safety Director of the City of St. Louis, helped create the school.

"It's taking the next step because students want to learn and demand we challenge them at a higher level,” he said.

ICA was sparked by Edwards. The judge said he was frustrated seeing kids leave his courtroom only to return to the streets and a home life littered with problems.

“The ultimate goal is college, but not just college or career, but to be prominent in those colleges and careers, and be real leaders,” said Dr. Michael Shaw, ICA Director.

Every student has had some kind of legal or school issue in the past. But with a second chance, a challenging curriculum and a student-teacher ratio that benefits the students, these kids are succeeding.

"Anything is possible after being here. I turned around a lot after coming here. I improved attitude and I’m looking forward to college on August 9,” said Joecia Dotson-Brooks, a student at the academy.

Innovative Concept Academy now has kids graduating at the top of their class in major universities, which forced ICA to push these kids at younger ages and have greater ambition.

“My goal is to finish high school, college, and be an engineer,” said Thomas Quaye, an ICA student.

The Innovative Concept Academy is a partnership between MERS-Goodwill, St. Louis Public Schools, and the St. Louis City court system.