Magazine article Techniques

Career Tech Programs: Helping Teenage Mothers

Magazine article Techniques

Career Tech Programs: Helping Teenage Mothers

Article excerpt

Good things are happening for teenage mothers and their young children in a setting that's traditionally been labeled a school for "bad kids."

Emerson Alternative School, one of the oldest alternative schools in Oklahoma, finds family and consumer sciences education (FACS) programs play an important role in making good things happen. Business and information technology education and early care and education, also Oklahoma CareerTech programs, are offered as electives to the students.

Lucia deLara, a senior at Emerson and mother of 20-month-old Jose, says she was aware of Emerson's reputation, but didn't know she would ever need the services it offers. She was not aware of the school's services to pregnant teenagers and teen moms until after the birth of her baby, Jose. That's when the counselor at John Marshall High School helped her find daycare and enroll at Emerson, which is located in downtown Oklahoma City.

The all-female classes for high school and middle school students range in age from 11-to-22 years of age. State law limits class size to 15.

The school has a number of pregnant teens enrolled--transfers from other Oklahoma City metro area schools.

"We have found that students are more successful in graduating if they come back here after having their babies, rather than return to their home schools," says Catherine Wilkinson, Emerson's FAGS instructor and mentoring coordinator.

Wilkinson teaches courses such as independent living skills, food nutrition and personal development. She also matches downtown Oklahoma City business people as mentors for Emerson students.

Classes such as these have proven effective at keeping young mothers like deLara in school, graduating on time and developing into well-rounded young adults.

Wilkinson describes deLara as a good student and active in FACS and its student organization Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Emerson has been well represented at recent FCCLA competitive events in the state.

DeLara's favorite class is FACS's Teen Outreach Program (T.O.P.)--a program that features a nationally recognized youth development curriculum designed to help young people pursue positive academic and personal goals by building a healthy self-image and commitment to serving the community. It also includes career exploration.

The FACS class, Early Care and Education (formerly Occupational Child Care), is an elective taught by Glenda Crabtree, and Wilkinson notes, "Since all of our students are parents, they value raising children as well as teaching them."

Recently named placement captain on Emerson's academic Decathlon Team, deLara wants to go on to college and eventually becoming a pediatrician. …

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