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East Allen's at-risk students get second chance

By June 13, 2009No Comments

bilde Last year, the Indiana Department of Education recorded that more than 700 students from East Allen County Schools were either dropouts or had an unknown graduation status. Many were from the Harding area. But EACS thinks it has found a solution. Beginning with the 2009-10 school year, the Crossing Educational Center will be a new facet of the district. The faith-based private school will target students who have been incarcerated, expelled, dropped out or who do not work well within the traditional school model. “Our vision is transforming lives through education by focusing on the heart and mind,” said Rob Staley, executive director of the Crossing, which is a state-accredited private school that works hand-in-hand with the public schools in the communities in which it serves. “We believe that if we can’t get to a kid’s heart then we can’t change their behavior.” The school, which is looking for a facility in the New Haven area, takes 25 students at a time – whether in separate sessions or separate classes – and teaches them academics, character development, leadership and career development. “We literally say we do life first and then school,” Staley said, explaining that for a half-houbilde2r each day, the students discuss life issues, such as the death of a parent or other things the students might be facing. The Crossing program began in Elkhart in 2003 by Staley. By next year, it will have grown from five students to 350 with eight campuses around Indiana working with 11 school districts. Schools in East Allen and Frankfort will be the latest additions to the Crossing chain, but Staley hopes to expand to Fort Wayne, as well. “Our goal is to have multiple schools in the Fort Wayne and East Allen area,” Staley said. The EACS school was approved by the school board in April, and Staley has already begun recruiting students. Staley explained that as long as the students are enrolled in an East Allen school then their state funding will follow them to the Crossing. Communities such as Goshen, Elkhart and South Bend all have schools in place. In Elkhart alone, the Crossing has been a part of reducing the district’s dropout rate by 45 percent. EACS officials are hoping to show some of the same results. “In a traditional classroom setting, it just didn’t work. Now, we have a nontraditional method where we do life first,” said Stephen Terry, EACS board president, adding the district has not had an alternative program in the past. He said they “outsourced” to other districts. “I believe we’re going to give more people in the community a second chance at life.” ——————————————————————————– 2008 EACS dropout/ undetermined rates The Indiana Department of Education breaks down a school’s graduation rate into categories such as “Graduates,” “GED” or “Still in School.” So for dropout rates, those whose graduation status is unknown is listed in the “Dropout/Undetermined” category. EACS: 7 percent Heritage: 4.9 percent Leo: 2.1 percent New Haven: 10 percent Harding: 13.2 percent Woodlan: 5.5 percent Source: Indiana Department of Education Learn more about the Crossing by calling 1-574-226- 0671 or visiting]]>