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GCAA’s Tyler Massotti: ‘They Want You to Succeed’ 

August 24, 2023 | Jeffrey Good

GCAA’s Tyler Massotti: ‘They Want You to Succeed’ image

With a warehouse job that required him to be at work during the school day, going to a traditional school was out of the question for Tyler Massotti. He tried online high school but found it to be a lonely and dispiriting experience.

“If you had a question, you could never reach a teacher,” Tyler says. Eventually, he lost momentum and dropped out.  “I just stopped doing the work because they wouldn’t help me.”

Then a flier arrived in the mail about Gwinnett County Acceleration Academies (GCAA), which works in partnership with the public school district to provide a personalized education and flexible schedule for students like Tyler.

What he found at GCAA couldn’t have been more different — or more rewarding.

“At a regular school, they’re not focused on you as a person; they’re focused on everybody because there are so many students,” he says. At GCAA, by contrast, the educators get to know him and other learners — who are called “graduation candidates” to remind them of their goals — as individuals.

Rather than dreading going to school, Tyler loves getting up in the morning to come to campus, settling into a comfortable chair in the cafe-style setting to focus on his coursework — and knowing that help is available whenever he needs it.

“Here, I want to wake up. I want to do the work,” he says.

English content coach Morris Bevily has been especially helpful, says Tyler, breaking down complex language and concepts into understandable slices. “He’s great at explaining stuff,” he says. “Anything I need, I just walk right over.”

Also encouraging is Jamaal Hickman, a graduation candidate advocate who keeps track of Tyler’s progress and reaches out to him when his momentum is flagging. “You don’t do your work, he’s calling you. He wants you to graduate.”

The academy, led by Director Hashima Carothers, a former college basketball standout, operates very much like a team. When Tyler was the first GC in the new academy to complete a course, he recalls, all the teachers stopped what they were doing and applauded.

“It was really kind of great,” he says, smiling at the memory. “They want you to succeed.”

After earning his diploma, Tyler would like to go to college to study business and possibly the science of outer space. “I want to know what’s out there, you know.”

Closer to home, he says he’s grateful that he found out about GCAA. “I’m really glad I got the flier in the mail,” he says. “I was so worried about how I was going to go back to school.”

Gwinnett County Acceleration Academies accepts new students on a rolling basis. For more information, check out the academy web page and fill out an online enrollment form.

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