Alternative high school experience “DB-Excel” gets new home in Kingsport

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)- A unique learning program in the Tri-Cities has a new home. About 200 students chose an alternative high school experience and attend Dobyns-Bennett Excel in Kingsport.

“It’s a really good environment,” DB-Excel Senior Ashley Derosia said.

If you walk in to the new DB-Excel it’s not the set up you might expect for a school full of 9th through 12th graders.

“The decisions about how the space was furnished and how it was structured and laid out was really all built around what do we want to do instructionally so the instruction drives the space decision rather than vice versa,” Andy True with Kingsport City Schools said.

The open classrooms, glass walls, and unconventional desks mirror the uniqueness of the curriculum itself.

“Students work on these online course platforms that the teachers have created and it’s very personalized,” Sam McCord, DB-Excel English teacher said. “A typical day for a student, basically they’ll work in a larger area with their peers for about 30 minutes and then they’ll get pulled out into breakout sessions and those last about 30 minutes as well and so we shift, a lot of movement here we shift about every hour.”

Derosia said she moved here from Florida and has experienced a variety of different schools.

“The smaller environment allows you to really get to know everybody so you’re not as anxious, you’re not as uncomfortable and it really allows you to you know open up to everybody kind of be like a family,” Derosia said.

“DB-Excel is best for students who want a smaller learning environment. Dobyns Bennett (High School) is an awesome school but a lot of students do not want to attend a school with 2,200 students,” DB-Excel Principal Shanna Hensley said.

Derosia said she also likes getting to learn at her own pace.

“My first semester here I was able to do I think about eight classes and I finished four of them within a month and I had a 4.0 GPA,” Derosia said.

Hensley said the students have the same teachers that work with them throughout their four years here.

“They get that one on one support and sustained support that lasts all the way through their high school experience,” Hensley said.

DB-Excel also provides transportation to and from main campus all day for kids participating in extra circular activities on the main DB campus.

And if students want to work while earning their diploma, “We have a career and college liaison who is able to go out and secure jobs from businesses and we can help students here make those connections and have a job while they’re also going to school,” Hensley said.

DB-Excel is located in the same building as Kingsport City Schools main office and the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

If Dobyns-Bennett High School students want to apply for this program they can fill out an application with their guidance counselor.

Classes started at the new location in January, but the official ribbon cutting is next week.

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