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The Crossing Featured in the Kokomo Herald

By January 29, 2013 No Comments

By Sean Cameron Kokomo students in classHigh school can be a tough gig. Between the academic strain, the social minefield, and the monotonous routine, it is no wonder many kids would rather skip it, and most adults are glad it is in the past. If you add in other factors, like a complicated home life with little or no parental support, a substance abuse problem, financial strife, or the responsibility of teen parenthood, a difficult task can become a nightmare. For students in those types of situations, an unconventional approach is needed. The Crossing Educational Center provides such an approach. “Our day is just a little bit different from the average school,” says Shannon Querry, Community Development Coordinator for the school. It is an intentional understatement. “The students arrive in the morning, and are greeted at the door,” Ms. Querry says. “And then they grab a coffee or a hot chocolate, say hello to each other, and then we’re ready to get to work.” Getting to work may mean starting in the computer lab, or it may involve a special “pull out” class or life-skills development. “One of the things going on now is Financial Peace University,” Querry says. “Each of the students is assigned a ‘job’, and that becomes their touchstone for learning about finances in real world scenarios. If they’re a plumber, they budget on a plumber’s salary; if they’re a nurse, then they have a different set of circumstances.” After the special session, the students then move to the computer lab for work with the APEX learning software The Crossings utilizes. “APEX is an excellent tool because it provides the basic educational building blocks the students need, and allows them to advance at their own pace,” Querry explains. It fits with a key principle of The Crossing to “meet the kids wherever they are” according to Querry. Following the APEX work, the students move to a couch-filled room for what the school refers to as “family time.” “This is where the magic happens, as far as I’m concerned,” says Querry. “The kids really emerge in here, and you get to see who they are and how amazing they are.” The “family time” session usually run from 45 minutes to an hour and involve discussion over a wide range of topics. “We talk about their successes and their struggles. We discuss character issues, with an emphasis on developing virtues like integrity and respect,” Querry says. “Right now there is a lot of discussion about teen pregnancy, which affects a number of our students. They share their insight into what led to their past decisions and how they can make better choices in the future.” Since a number of the students have children or are pregnant, childcare is an important issue at The Crossing. Jackie Weaver is spearheading the schools effort to assist young mothers. “Jackie is a teacher and a social worker, and is our resident childcare expert,” Querry says. “We are moving our childcare center to a larger space and Jackie will be key in not only organizing the space, but developing a more comprehensive childcare program.” Querry explained that the childcare program has a dual mission. “We want to provide a safe and convenient place for children of our students,” she says. “But we also want them to learn the parenting skills they will need to provide a home for their children. Skills they may not have or otherwise learn.” Another part of the life skills training The Crossing provides is meal planning and preparation. Each day a number of students are assigned the tasks of preparing the meals, while others are responsible for clean up afterwards. “This gives them some ownership in the process, teaches them some basic cooking skills, and has the added benefit of teaching them about service to others,” Querry says. The food preparation takes on another dimension when The Crossing’s gardening project is included. Thanks to a grant from the United Way of Howard County, the students have been maintaining an extensive gardening project on the grounds of the South branch of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. “The site is quite impressive, and nearly all the work was done by the students,” Querry states. The garden provides some of the food for meals at The Crossing but also is used in their canning projects. The students make their own Salsa, pepper oil, and dried spice mix. In the future they hope to sell the goods to offset a portion of their operating expenses. “One of the first by-products of going to school here is an increased self-confidence,” says Querry. “Once these kids see what they’re capable of, they want to continue to challenge themselves. The garden and canning projects add to their self-sufficiency, and that goes to the heart of our purpose. “At the end of the day, we just want them to lead happy and productive lives.” Read the original article:  Kokomo Herald]]>

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