Summer 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 43 | 17 summer 2016 educational programs that include charter schools, magnet schools, and homeschooling. But in-district programs like Success aren't embroiled in controversies over private school vouchers, tuition tax credits, or similar attempts to direct public funds to private, home, or for-proft schools. Stewart is clear that by describing Success as a school of choice, she is highlighting the students' active commitment to their own education. "They are focused and they are taking ownership of their education," says Stewart. "The current, traditional model tends to be powerful for a number of students, but there are individuals for whom this program is a better ft. They feel much more empowered in their education. They are much more aware of where they are going and why they are going in that direction." Success is often one of the frst institutions to celebrate a student's individual skills. Stewart says, "I have students who haven't received an award since they were in elementary school, and we are giving those students recognition. They are kids who haven't had the vehicle to show what they can do, and we are giving them opportunities to reach heights they lost along the way." Contrary to common misconceptions about alternative schools, not everyone attending the school is doing so because they've gotten into trouble at a traditional campus and could no longer remain there. For example, some students have struggled with medical or mental health issues that have been detrimental to their progress in school. Stewart says there are students at her high school with sickle cell anemia, cancer, and scoliosis. "Even though the district ofers homebound services, depending on the severity of a student's injury or condition," she says, "students still might fall behind." There are also students who have assumed adult roles in their families. Many are balancing schoolwork and the responsibility of being the primary breadwinner at home. Students also apply to Success because they want to work at an accelerated pace, prefer nontraditional work environments, have unique scheduling needs, are pregnant or parenting, or experience social difculties in traditional schools. Stewart says, "The educators here have a great passion for working with at-risk students who have had some hurdles to overcome—it could be anything from being awkward to being homeless." A BLENDED APPROACH TO LEARNING Students at Success work at their own pace and receive individual instruction. In general, students earn course credits after working through lessons and tests on a computer, but Stephanie Williams calls Success a godsend. Following anxiety-flled freshman and sophomore years at a traditional high school, her daughter, Morgan, graduated from the alternative school a year and a half early. That accomplishment is a testament to Morgan's determination and her family's support and is proof that the school is living up to its name. Morgan began struggling with anxiety in middle school, but she hoped her symptoms would fade as she began high school. That didn't happen. She struggled her freshman and sophomore years and began missing school. "There were sometimes 30 or more students in one classroom," Morgan says. "I couldn't keep up with the teacher because people were talking nonstop." Morgan's school counselor encouraged her to apply to Success. She was accepted at the beginning of her junior year and graduated at the beginning of the spring semester. Morgan says individualized instruction, the ability to focus on her work, and caring educators helped her succeed. "The teachers care about the kids personally," she says. "They don't judge you by your past. If you need help, they are here to help. I didn't feel that way in a traditional school." Morgan is planning to enroll in her frst college class this summer. "I'm going to start with one course and make my way because I want to go into nursing." She doesn't hesitate when she adds, "College is defnitely going to happen." SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK MENJIVAR WITH LET TERING ILLUSTRATION BY ERICA FOS; CHANG/STEWART PHOTO BY JEAN SCHLITZKUS; MORGAN WILLIAMS PHOTO BY JOHN A. STEWART

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of ATPE News - Summer 2016