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Needs And Concerns

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q       Assistant Principle

     -     to help with discipline

-            so that there will always be an administrator or person "in charge" when Mr. Smith is out.

     -     to free Mr. Smith up so he can be more "visible"

     -     preferably a black male role model to balance/complement Mr. Smith.

q       Additional High School Teacher Assistants

-            It is difficult to go all day long without a break.  We have students from the time we arrive till sometimes 3:00 p.m.

-            We have no consistent "prep time".  It is difficult to teach ten different classes within 4 periods/7 different preps, with no prep time, much less any time to adequately grade papers or do needed copy work --- some classes have no texts so it requires daily copy work.

-     A "duty-free" lunch would be nice, but now I know I'm just dreaming.  (Ha!  Ha!)

q       Required Small Group Counseling (with professional therapists)

-          We need to teach more than academics.  We need to help students with the problems that brought them here (drugs, fighting, weapons, etc.).  We need to help students make some lifestyle changes so they will not be looked at as a detriment to society.  Let's teach character (we've heard that before).

q       Field Trips

-          A required trip to the local prison.  (Show them the "end of the road"---real life consequences)

-          Reward trips to plays, musicals, movies ? ? ? --- for academics as well as behavior.

-          Visit potential life jobs --- let students talk with real people doing real jobs.  This may help students set higher goals.

q       Staff Development

-          "How to motivate/communicate with the 'at-risk' student"

-          Bring in other successful alternative school admin./teachers to give us fresh ideas of what works (Better yet, we could take a field trip. . . )

-          ? ? ? ? Self-Defense ? ? ?  (Ha!  Ha!)

q       Hazard Pay

-          Is this still being discussed?  (Especially since we do not get the EOC bonus pay)

q       Key to the Xerox Room

-          It is always locked and we (the High School teachers) have to disturb the Middle School teachers to borrow their key.

-          Even better would be our own copy machine upstairs.


q       Consistent and Enforced Rules

-          I would like to know the "rules" for determining who can or cannot be enrolled in the Alternative School.  What criteria do the home high school principals go by to determine their recommendations?

-          It seems like we have an open/revolving door to any and everyone who wants to come here.  Is anyone ever turned down or is it automatic?  Is our goal to increase the enrollment, or to keep students in their home schools.  We may have made the atmosphere too enjoyable and the work load too lax (very little homework ever done or assigned, lower expectations, much less work than a regular classroom, . . .)

-          Idea---Maybe an entrance/screening committee made up of admin, teachers, counselor could be formed where the potential student, parent, and principal must plead their case to the committee.

-          Students should not be removed from their home school and placed in the Alternative School because of

§         Too many absences

§         Failing grades which might keep a teacher form getting their EOC bonus pay

           We often become babysitters, and that's really not why I'm here.

-    It would be helpful to teachers if we know why students were enrolled in the alt. School   especially, returning students.    If we are a "last chance" school, how many last chances do students get?  (Examples: Tim Matthews, Jon Smith)  We lose credibility if we tell a student over and over "This is it!" --- and after a week or two, they come back with no explanation to teachers.  There may be a very good reason for students returning, but if we are not informed, it is very defeating.  (Another example:  Adam Whitehead)  It really helped for Adam to have to verbally commit to me his desire to "succeed" in my class prior to his returning.  It made a big difference .  I felt like I had some say in the decision (whether I did or not) and I didn't feel undermined by being involved.  Adam has also kept his end of the bargain better than had he not had to look me in the eye and commit to getting along with me.  He really believes one mistake and he's gone --- I'm not so sure anymore.  It seems like our hands are tied if every decision has the potential of being overturned.  (If I'm speaking out of ignorance, I apologize.  This is just how it seems from where I sit).

q       Absences

-          We have many students who have too many absences and cannot possibly make them up.  We also made the decision that students would  not  be allowed to make up days after school.  Make-up days were moved to Saturdays (and I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was to have a "student-free" workday last week.  WOW!!!  Thank You!!!   However, it is rumored that some students are being told that they can possibly make up days after school again, if the teacher is willing.  I don't want to be a "bad guy", but here are my reasons against after school make-up days:

§         It causes additional prep to find work to keep them busy.

§         I can't afford giving up any of "my" time

§         It creates additional record keeping

§         More constant supervision

§         We end up "babysitting" --- students rarely do any work!

§         I become a "bad guy" if I'm the only one that does not permit this.

-          Do we have a policy for making up work for suspension and/or unexcused absences?

One of our teachers said she has a student with10 - 20 absences but he has a 99 average.  I do not think that should be possible. I allow students to make up work for suspension, but I give zeros for unexcused absences.  If needed, and a student is working hard, I may allow make-up for a grade of 70, but no more.  There should be some kind of penalty.  Should there be some consistency among all classes?

Dear Mr. Smith,

            Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work at HCAS.  Most days I enjoy what I do and feel like I may be making a small difference in someone's life.

            I have never worked with such a great faculty.  You were right --- it is like family!  We laugh together, we cry together, we get frustrated together, we hold each other up and encourage one another . . . and then we laugh some more.

            Thank you for being so supportive --- especially when our nerves are shot.  I really appreciate the job you do (and would not trade places with you for anything). 

            Thanks for all you (and Joy) do! ! ! ! ! !


                                                                                    Vanessa Dalton

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