by David Sturdevant
In my last column, I wrote about special education and 504 programs here at LA. I talked about students who are provided with accommodations and modifications in their studies. Then, Jake Abbott guest wrote a column about our collaboration with Kieve/Wavus, in an effort to further serve students through a mentoring program, which begins in 7th grade and continues through a student’s senior year.
Today, I am highlighting a couple more programs we offer our students. The first is our alternative education program, which we started in 1991. Maine state educational statutes allow for schools and/or districts to implement alternative programs. “An alternative education program means a program in which the primary purpose is to provide at-risk students with curricula and assessment in a setting designed to effectively meet the student’s academic, social, and relational needs.”
What then is an at-risk student? An at-risk student, according to state statutes, is a student who “is not meeting promotion or graduation requirements or who is at-risk for dropping out of school.” Additionally, a student who attends an alternative school program may be a student who does not perform or function well in a traditional classroom setting or in a traditional school schedule. Perhaps this student needs to work to help support his or her family, or has other extenuating circumstances.
Most alternative schools offer modified schedules, and most include experiential education and service learning opportunities. Students can work at their own pace, and they can graduate with their class or at whatever time they actually finish their work. Our alternative education program provides a valuable experience to a portion of our population who might not otherwise stay in school. Students can not only complete their course requirements, they can also explore the world around them, and they can also begin to explore career options.
Somewhat related to the alternative school program is a three-year old program known as IDEAL, which is an acronym for Individually Designed Education for All Learners. This program also offers an alternative schedule, separate site, experiential education, and a community service component. Students spend part of each day out in the community experiencing various locales, businesses, farms, non-profit organizations, and more. These students learn well in a separate school environment, and they all benefit from hands-on individualized instruction.
There is a real emphasis on working in the community, and students have shoveled snow for elderly people, worked at the food pantry, helped out at a local thrift store, and built a trail and signage at the DRA.
Both of these programs provide individualized educational opportunities for a segment of our student population. We believe that every student can be successful if we help them find the right path and the right setting. I will feature more information on other programs next week.
As always, should you have questions about Lincoln Academy, please feel free to make an appointment to meet with me. You may contact Carole Brinkler, Assistant to the Head of School at 207-563-3596, ext.102.