Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Excel Program Educates Abused, Neglected Children Students, Ranging from 10 to 18, Come from Several Counties

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Excel Program Educates Abused, Neglected Children Students, Ranging from 10 to 18, Come from Several Counties

Article excerpt

Now that schools have reopened, most teen-agers throughout the area are settling into a routine of classes and after-school actives.

But for some unfortunate youths, the school year will not be so smooth or settling.

These kids suffer from abuse or neglect. They are homeless because they ran away or were kicked out. They have spent time in foster care or have such serious behavioral problems that few think they can handle them.

Some of these teen-agers end up in the Youth In Need shelter in St. Charles. While staying there, they continue their schooling in the agency's EXCEL program. EXCEL stands for EXceptional Creative Environment of Learning.

The kids range from age 10 to 18. Most are 14 or 15. They come not only come from St. Charles County, but Jefferson, St. Louis and Lincoln counties. Each year, between 175 and 200 of them go through the doors of the program, set up in a former warehouse in the 2200 block of Droste Road.

The program is funded by the St. Charles School District, which is reimbursed by the students' home districts. The school was set up six years ago.

Roberta Brennan, director of student services for the St. Charles School District, said EXCEL keeps students in school while they stay in the shelter and get counseling.

Laura Harrison, director of operations at Youth In Need, said the alternative school was better equipped for dealing with the troubled kids. "Many of these kids can't focus for more than 10 minutes because they don't know where they will be that night or tomorrow. They are just under too much stress."

To keep them from losing all contact with their home school district, EXCEL tries to bring in materials and curriculum that the student had been studying.

Excel has just two staff members: director and teacher Mona Freiberger and her teaching assistant, Todd Vierling.

Freiberger loves the challenge. …

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