Career Center/Alternative Learning Environment (ALE)
VBSD offers an alternative learning environment designed to serve the needs of at-risk students in grades K-12. The Learning Center hosts students K-8. Our campus supports 9-12 students and is known as the Career Center. Services are based on a three-part approach:
- Academic instruction designed to ensure students meet graduation requirements and credit recovery,
- School-based mental health and social health services.
- Career emphasis and training.
The Career Center/ALE is housed at the Izard site on 24th Street. Offering full day instruction, students work on credit courses utilizing on-site instructors and web-based classes sponsored through the Arkansas Virtual High School and through partnership with Arkansas Tech University students take concurrent credit classes on-site. By partnering with AR Counseling and Associates, students benefit from on-site counselors focusing on helping students overcome the barriers they face. VBSD Parent Education Program conducts group and personal meetings with students who are in need of their program assistance.
The ALE is a supportive/non-punitive environment that:
- Stresses credit recovery
- Offers counseling services to those in need
- Arranges special guest speakers
- Offers Alcohol/Tobacco/Drug Prevention services
- Builds relationships
- Utilizes low student/teacher ratio
- Offers college classes through Arkansas Tech University (ATU) and the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS)
- Offers Vocational training through the WATC programs at UAFS
- Encourages volunteerism to support community activities
- Offers a positive and support-filled day that is presented with HQT educators instructing students using their strengths while addressing their deficit areas
Each content course is taught in alignment with district curriculum, which is aligned with state standards. Our classes are taught using several different styles of teaching including: lecture, cooperative learning, independent research, and manipulatives. We also utilize peer tutoring and on-on-one tutoring for those needing additional help.
Credit recovery is an important aspect of the Career Enter that allows students to get back on the path towards graduation.
- Credit Recovery is a term used when a student must retake classes that the student has previously failed or received no credit in.
- There are several methods we use for credit recovery. One method is retaking the class with a certified instructor. Another method is during skills lab the student will use computer-based programs such as Plato, Compass, and/or Pace with a staff member proctoring and monitoring their progress. We also off after school classes for students who are short on credits. Saturday school is also provided
Strong positive counseling services are provided and available.
- Partnership with Arkansas Counseling and Associates (ACA)
- Counselor on staff
- Referral to other agencies as needed
- The counseling agency consists of case workers and therapists. They meet with the student and parent on the initial visit. Thereafter they meet with students individually on a weekly basis. They also have groups sessions. The counseling agency is on-site at the Career Center which makes them available as needed. Besides the counseling agency on-site we now have a full-time district employee who serves as the school counselor for the Career Center.
- Juvenile services also meet with individual students discussing academics, attendance, and behavioral goals.
The principal and counselor meet individually with students throughout the nine weeks and specifically progress report time and report card time. One of the key components of our program is building relationships. Students are not just sent to the principal’s office for discipline issues. Students are invited to the office just to talk. Most of the students have never been to a principals office for a reason other than discipline. The students are shock that an administrator actually wants to talk to them individually to discuss the student’s academic and career goals and other subjects of interest to the student.
The behavioral and career-centered intervention services being implemented in the ALE program are:
- Group and individual sessions with various counseling agencies
- Visits by probation offices
- Parental contact
- The Career Center in a joint effort with students and staff has developed a skills for life program. It covers such things as: financial advice, education resources, voter registration, car tag renewal, insurance, healthy habits, career planning, obtaining a birth certificate, resume, interview techniques, and mock interview evaluations.
- We have various intervention techniques: teachers emailing principal to inform of student academic status, tutoring during study hall and after school, Principal and Counselor personally involved with students who are slipping academically, indirect reports from Special Ed., use of the compass learning program which “strategies for keeping students on track”, uses techniques fro the Max Teaching with Reading and Writing book using the “What I know and what I don’t know” sheets.
- Guest speakers addressing educational and career opportunities
- For qualifying students we offer classes through ATU and WATC that cover a variety of career fields including: medical, drafting, law enforcement, and welding.
- Military recruiters also visit the campus to inform the students of opportunities available through them. The also administer the ASVAB test.