This article was written by David Bjorkgren. It was originally published on September 18, 2020 by MontcoToday.
Not every teenager thrives in a traditional school setting. Some students with emotional and behavioral challenges struggle in a large classroom, avoiding school altogether as they fall behind on basic skills.
These students are very capable of succeeding academically. They often just need additional support and new, creative approaches to the learning experience.
To meet this need, The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth (TLC) partnered with Norristown Area School District to launch the Choices Program in the 2019-2020 school year.
This program offers alternative education approaches for students in 7th through 12th grade.
TLC’s team of educators reengage students by creating a therapeutic, trauma-informed learning environment.
TLC teachers also provide personalized support to students who receive live online instruction daily.
The Choices Program curriculum follows a TLC philosophy of Transformational Education®. This student-centered approach uses interactive learning strategies and relationship-building to help students develop the life skills they need to reach their full potential.
“We believe it is critical to teach our students to develop a mindset that success is possible and that they don’t have to try and reach for it without support,” says April Thomas, TLC’s Chief Schools Officer.
Students participating in the Choices Program have the freedom to choose activities and pace themselves in the learning process.
Throughout their time in the program, students have access to individual and group counseling sessions, which help them develop coping strategies and positive decision-making skills.
Some students have the option of following an accelerated track that lets them recover lost credits with an aim toward graduating on time.
Physical education classes and electives are also part of the curriculum.
Along with academics, leadership and character development is encouraged through weekly group circles, opportunities for community service and job search activities.
The TLC team’s focus on academics and mental health allows them to fill gaps in services that can be difficult to address in large school settings.
“It is an honor for TLC to be able to serve the students of Norristown and provide a supportive program for students who need personalized instruction in a smaller school setting,” said Thomas. “Our team works hard to reengage students and, when necessary, help them learn to dispel myths and stereotypes that they may even think about themselves.”
An important aspect of the Choices Program is the collaborative team that is created between students, families, the school district and service professionals. This provides a safety net for the students, offering each student the best chance possible to achieve personal and academic success.
A great addition to the program was a $2,000 donation from The Haverford Trust Company providing Google Chromebooks for each student.
“We are incredibly grateful for The Haverford Trust Company’s generous support of our students and their families,” said Thomas. “Thanks to this gift we were able to equip every student we serve with the resources they need to succeed this school year.”
To find out more about The Lincoln Center, visit here.