Vocational Education Program Helps Turn Students Around

Article excerpt

Michelle Reckley knows what it means to get a second chance. And, she vows to make the most of it.

Four years ago she was on the verge of ending her academic career, she hated school and was being told "by everyone there is" that she was worthless and would never amount to anything.

This fall she plans to enter Oklahoma State University and work toward becoming a clinical psychologist working with hearing impaired children.

After graduating from high school June 2, she plans to work this summer as a temporary replacement for office employees, using the business and computer skills she learned her last four years in high school.

What brought about the transformation is the Skills and Academic Grant Education program offered jointly by Metro Tech and Oklahoma City Public Schools. The program, begun in the fall of 1983, is designed to help students who have problems, either emotional or chemically related, and help them through high school.

"When I came here (four years ago), I was supposed to be a sophomore in high school but I only had three credits (toward graduation)," she said. "I was told by everyone that I was worthless and that I had better shape up, that I would never amount to anything. But I hated school and I just refused to go. I probably didn't attend classes more than 20 percent of the time.

"After interviewing here, I was told that this was my last hope, if I failed here, there was nowhere else to go. They told me and my mother that they would take me out of the normal classroom setting and allow me to learn through experience and application.

"It has been great. I love this program. The teachers have worked with me to provide individual attention, but they have kept us working in a group so that we could develop these skills that we didn't have."

Reckley's reaction is typical of the students attending the vocational type program, said Campus Director Stephen J. Prieto.

"This program was developed to help students who couldn't learn through the traditional classroom situation," he said. "In fact, our teachers had to learn to teach the individual, not a class, because there is such a broad range of academic and age skills here.

"One student may be technically in the 10th or 11th grade, but reading on a third or fourth grade level. That student must be taught differently than a student who is reading on a much higher level but is having different problem."

Most courses are taught through the applied program, that is allowing students to see how their lessons are applied in the real world.

"One thing that we've done is that I'm president of the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and we have to do a certain number of community projects a year," Reckley said. "So the main campus wants us to provide some fliers and other printed stuff for them. In this way, we're using right now what we learned in class. We know that this will be necessary in the business world and we can see how our desk top publishing is important to getting and keeping a job."

Reckley will use her desk top publishing and other computer skills to help pay her way through college. …