By Curtis Fisher and Annika Schmidt
School officials are exploring changes to the Alternative Education program to make it more responsive to evolving student needs. Principal Sara Dingledy said, “The Alt-Ed program is really looking to rebrand themselves as a community. We’re still in the conversation stage of these changes.”
Ms. Dingledy also introduced the possibility of adding mixed grade level classes into the program. The current version of the Alt-Ed program emerged five years ago from a combination of the Students and Teachers Achieving Results (STAR) Alternative Education program for ninth and tenth graders and the Rebecca Amos Institute program for eleventh and twelfth graders.
The program now is voluntary and focuses on individual student needs, greater involvement in the community, and interdisciplinary connections.
“Our students require educational opportunities greater than the official state definition of Alternative Education,” department chair, Anna Cotton said.
Students in the program take the four core classes—English, history, science, and math—in 43- and 86-minute blocks that align with the school’s four-block rotation schedule. Built with flexibility in mind, this schedule enables students in the Alt-Ed program to take a wide range of electives and other academic classes in addition to their four core classes.
Teachers strive to account for a wide variety of learning styles by directing a flexible curriculum in the classroom, based on student interest. The small, communal quality of the program encourages students to become active learners and build relationships with their teachers.
“My favorite part is the smaller classes. It really lets you get to know the teacher and get more attention than in the larger mainstream,” said junior Jake Hairston. “Alt-Ed is just how it sounds. It’s like an alternative to mainstream education with the same curriculum, but with smaller class sizes and shorter class times.”
This conversation about possible changes to the program will be presented by students in the program during the December faculty meeting.