Cavern became principal in January after former principal Rick Miller transitioned into the role of MAP coordinator for Wilson County Schools. Miller was principal of MAP Academy for 20 years.
“He goes around and checks on the students that leave MAP. He’s not just checking on the students who have recently left. He’s gone back to a couple years in the past and is checking on those students,” Cavern said.
Miller visits schools and talks with principals and teachers about former MAP students and those at risk, as well as continues to visit MAP Academy. Miller’s role as MAP Academy liaison is vital to the overall function of the program, which is to rehabilitate students, according to Cavern.
“To be honest, we have a lot of really good kids who make bad decisions and made bad choices. That’s why I stay there,” said Cavern, who has worked at the academy for 12 years.
MAP Academy currently has about 100 students enrolled, which includes about a dozen middle school students, and has had about 180 students this year. Cavern said the school works to provide stability and structure for its students.
“Structure is our big thing. Responsibility is a big thing. Consistency is a big thing, and accountability,” he said. “I believe if we can hold those kids responsible for their actions, hold them accountable and give them some consistency and make them consistent, then that can help them change their ways and get back into the school system.”
Miller’s role ultimately oversees the effectiveness of the program, which includes communication with parents.
“It’s a way to hold students accountable and let them know that we’re checking on them,” Cavern said.
MAP Academy will also expand into the former Wilson County Schools central office building on Stumpy Lane, which will house middle school students.
Another change the academy has gone through this year is the presence of Keith Edmonds, founder of the Keith Edmonds Foundation.
“Keith has been a huge asset to our program,” Cavern said.
Edmonds visits the school daily and works in small groups with students, and discusses whatever they want to talk about.
“He comes in, and he connects,” Cavern said. “I’ve seen a lot of positive things come from the students who have worked with him.”