Alternative Education

"Alternative Learning Communities" were created in September 2005 to meet the demand for an alternative learning environment for 14-18 year old students. Since then, many students have graduated and made a successful transition from school to postsecondary studies or school to employment. We work towards a successful outcome for each of our students by focusing on “Hope, Opportunity, and Excellence”.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, … plans to give you a future with hope

Jerimiah 29

In Christ-centered settings, these specialized programs take a holistic, multidisciplinary approach that focuses on students’ mental, physical, social/emotional and spiritual well-being. Each program meets the needs of students who benefit from the opportunity to refocus their efforts through a fresh start. LAUNCH (for 14-16 year olds) and CROSSROADS (for 16-17 year olds) provide platforms for students to work at their own pace towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. They take individualized approaches to student learning in recognition of the fact that students have different interest, needs and learning styles. Each program provides a safe and flexible learning environment with a focus on credit acquisition, the development of social/emotional competencies, and preparation for life after high school – whether postsecondary education or the workplace. They offer many opportunities for students to build on their strengths and develop the skills, attitudes and knowledge they need to succeed. 

Each off-site alternative education program provides opportunities for students to meet all the graduation requirements. Primarily through an independent learning model, they offer a variety of compulsory and optional courses, “credit recovery” for previously failed courses, preparation for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or the Literacy Course, and the chance to participate in Christian service activities. In addition, through cooperative education programs, career days and hands-on activities with community partners, they encourage students to discover and investigate postsecondary career and educational possibilities.

The success of our off-site alternative education programs can be attributed to many factors. Paramount amongst these is the team approach undertaken by a highly trained and dedicated staff that includes teachers, representatives from behaviour resource and psychological services, CYWs, and secretarial support. The team works as a Catholic Learning Community and is passionate about student success. They are committed to the goal of providing every student with “a successful outcome”.

Our sites offer students and parents something different from mainstream schooling.  We believe that each student is imprinted with God’s image and is worthy of dignity and respect.  We are a community rooted in Christ and committed to a model of discipleship that enhances the Christian formation of all members based on gospel values.  We feature a small student population, a commitment to innovative and experimental programs.  We offer Ministry of Education and Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) approved courses, that are delivered in a learning environment that is flexible and meets the needs of individual students.

Courses may be delivered through large group instruction, smaller cooperative groups, and Independent Learning Courses (ILC), which are provided by the Ministry of Education and incorporate appropriate provincial curriculum.  Our various sites provide small, flexible and positive environments that support a diverse group of students in the development of life-long learning skills as they prepare for a successful future.  We provide a nurturing environment for students who benefit from having staff know them individually.

In our programs, we provide learning opportunities and settings for students in Grades 9 to 12 who require an alternative environment.  We facilitate the spiritual, academic, social and emotional development of each student.  We provide a safe, caring environment, which fosters respect, responsibility, individuality, diversity and creativity.  We teach students the skills required to be life-long learners, contributing members of the community and successful in school.  Our staff models life-long learning, has expertise in differentiated instruction, and works cooperatively with parents and the community to support student success.  The virtues and social skills necessary for a life of compassionate service and respect for others is nurtured and celebrated.

There are several programs listed under Alternative Learning Communities:  Launch, Crossroads, Jerimiah's Place, Choices, and Salep.

Student Profile

The programs are designed for students "at risk" who, for various reasons, are unable to cope in a regular school setting. Students may be affected by any of the following factors:

Academic

  • Credit deficit
  • lack of academic progress
  • poor attendance and punctuality
  • chronic truancy
  • poor study habits
  • passive learner vs. active learner
  • literacy/numeracy skills are average or slightly below average
  • learning gaps
  • requires individual attention
  • not a risk taker
  • benefits from a smaller more intimate school setting
  • does not see meaning in curriculum content
  • “outside the box” thinker
  • divergent learning style
  • open to use of technology to enhance learning
  • sense of not belonging in the traditional school setting

Social

  • limited interest in faith community
  • home conflict
  • family socio-economic struggles
  • poor decision making skills
  • history of requiring professional counseling
  • difficulty in creating/sustaining positive relationships
  • susceptible to negative peer influences
  • affiliation needs (gangs/negative peer groups)
  • lack of respect for others
  • difficulty resolving conflict without violence
  • conflict with the law
  • decreased tolerance for diversity (sexual/cultural/religious/ethnic/racial)

Personal

  • mental health issues
  • limited sense of personal identity
  • poor self image
  • lack of positive role models in life
  • avoidance of anticipated failure
  • difficulty taking personal responsibility
  • limited scope of values (integrity/honesty/empathy)
  • requires a second chance (“burned bridges” at their home school)
  • involved in “high risk” behaviours (criminal/sexual/addiction)
  • maintains poor health habits

Goal

The programs provide a structured, encouraging environment where students have the opportunity to:

  • develop and apply positive patterns of behaviour
  • claim their self-esteem
  • identify, set and meet their personal and academic goals
  • appreciate the value of learning
  • gain a sense of accomplishment by meeting personal, family, school and community expectations
  • become a successful learner
  • view his/her educational experience as worthwhile and valuable
  • return to a home school program so that he/she may complete the requirements for graduation
  • develop a degree of proficiency in the skills needed in career planning and/or job acquisition
  • participate in volunteer work placement and co-op programs

Objectives

Environment
The centres provide an inviting, structured, non-threatening and nurturing environment.
Behaviour

Students are expected to:

  • have ownership and accountability for their actions
  • assume control over themselves
  • maintain positive attitudes, statements and actions
  • develop a positive attitude towards education

Students are encouraged to relate more effectively with others by developing mutual understanding and cooperation and thus be able to deal effectively with their own feelings and rationally deal with conflicts in positive, productive ways.

Self-Esteem:
Students have an opportunity to not only recognize and appreciate their own value and worth and accept their individual talents as worthy of development, but also gain confidence by expanding their positive attributes in order to achieve a sense of accomplishment.
Goal Setting
The staff provides support of the students to develop their ability to set specific, short and long-term reasonable goals and the commitment to achieve them.
Student Schedule

The centres operate from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Visits outside operating hours are by appointment only.

Each student is provided with a timetable based on individual needs, following an interview with program staff.

Students are strongly encouraged to combine their efforts at the centre with part-time work.

Admission

Students are referred to the programs through their home school. Administration of the pending school will conduct the screening and submit a recommendation for admission to the program

Expectations of Students

Students must demonstrate a willingness to take responsibility for their behaviour and the changes that will be needed to be successful in this new setting.

They are asked to follow the policies and procedures set out for them in order to achieve success.

Students must demonstrate a commitment to participate in the regularly scheduled group or individual personal and social responsibility sessions.

They are required to attend their scheduled classes, be on time, stay on task and complete required assignments.

Students will strive towards returning to their home school successfully.

Code of Conduct

Students must abide by the same code of conduct and disciplinary procedures in effect at their home schools. They are also expected to:

  • behave ethically as members of a Catholic learning community
    • With Christ as your inspiration, lead a life characterized by honesty, integrity, dedication, perseverance and compassion.
  • set high standards of excellence for themselves.
    • Arrive on time, attend regularly, and be ready to learn;
    • Engage in activities in ways that demonstrate a commitment to learning;
    • Submit only your “personal best” work.
  • respect the rights of others to a positive, safe and orderly learning and working environment.
    • Respect the personal, civil, and property rights of others;
    • Support your fellow students and their learning.
  • conduct themselves in a manner that represents our community with pride
    • Accept responsibility for your education, decisions and actions;
    • Exhibit self-control by seeking alternatives to verbal or physical conflicts;
    • Dress and speak appropriately.

Expectations of Parents

Parents must ensure that their son or daughter attends classes regularly and on time. They must be willing to provide transportation to and from the centre if required.

Parents must monitor homework and assignment completion on a daily basis.

They must provide positive reinforcement and encouragement.

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