A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies for Teaching At-Risk Students

A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies for Teaching At-Risk Students

A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies for Teaching At-Risk Students

A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies for Teaching At-Risk Students

Synopsis

A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies for Teaching At-Risk Students describes an alternative school that dealt with students who were expelled or suspended from public school and who perceived themselves as victims of injustice. It was assumed that they misinterpreted the facts of various situations or chose inappropriate strategies to correct real injustices. The task of the school was to help the students learn multiple perspectives for interpreting the actions of others and to teach them more appropriate ways of resolving injustices. Four students in the school relate their problems and describe, through a qualitative research interview process, how the school helps them. The book describes specific strategies the school used and concludes with suggestions to those who wish to establish a similar program.

Excerpt

Our time spent working at the school for healing, the Center for Alternative Learning (CAL), was a transforming period. It proved to us what we already knew in our hearts. Our troubled adolescents were caring human beings, who were more positive than negative individuals; and they deserved to be valued by adults. The cause of their troubles was not in their intentions but in the mistakes they made in interpreting the facts of some situations or in the strategies they chose to use to correct injustices they encountered. Thus, our task was not to punish them but to help them learn to interpret situations differently and to use more appropriate strategies to accomplish their goals.

CAL existed before we were involved with it, and it existed after we left it. During its entire history of existence, it has clearly assisted students who have been suspended or expelled from the regular school program. There have been three distinct periods in its history. Each period reflects the use of different combinations of strategies and philosophies for assisting the students. When we were there, we called it the school for healing because of the unique combination of strategies we implemented and our belief system that from each student's perspective he or she had a right to be angry. The student was either misinterpreting the situation or choosing the wrong strategies to resolve a real injustice. None of the strategies or techniques used to assist the students in correcting their mistakes were unique. They have all been tried before and are still being implemented in many schools today. The fact that we combined them in the way that we did and that we interpreted their results through our collective belief system was what made our tenure there a special time. The impact upon the students of this delivery model was very encouraging. It was so positive that the program received the local Chamber of Commerce's Best School Award and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' 1990 Exemplary Dropout/Retention Award, was referenced in two books on dropout prevention, had a research article published about it in a national journal, had two doctoral dissertations generated from it, and received . . .

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