Merger puts alternative programs under one roof<BR>

When the Mohave Union High School and Kingman Elementary School districts merged July 1 and became the Kingman Unified School District, several alternative programs for students came under one roof.

Kingman High School has its Positive Alternatives for Student Success program at Mohave Community College.

It permits students to learn at their own pace.

The elementary district has an alternative program based at Palo Christi School for at-risk students.

It is designed to get students who have difficulty in a regular classroom environment back on track so they can re-enter a regular classroom.

But what happens to a student who seems unable to learn? If a student is not mentally handicapped or carrying behavioral problems and is unable to grasp the material being taught, how long will he or she be able to stay in school?

"We stay with such students until they quit on themselves," said Mike Ford, superintendent of the KUSD.

It is almost impossible to motivate a student who gives up, he said.

But principals and directors in the district have set a goal of not giving up on any child making the effort to learn.

Palo Christi Principal Diana Logas and head teacher Meg Moody are excited about programs in their school and the flexibility they offer that make it possible for teachers to address each student's needs individually, Ford said.

Teachers of at-risk students focus heavily on math, reading and writing in order to limit the number of subject areas the student must remember, Logas said.

At-risk students are evaluated on their progress more often than other students, she said.

If a student is having a problem in a particular area, teachers often volunteer to work with the student after school.

The teacher will contact parents and ask them to come in for a conference if the student is still at-risk after the first semester, she said.

"The teacher and parents sit down and develop a goal sheet for that student," Logas said.

"It may contain goals like finishing homework in reading each night or practicing reading at home for 10 minutes a night.

"At the end of the third grading period, the teacher and parents meet again and go over how successful the student has been at meeting his or her goals.

If the student has not progressed, they go through the goal sheet again and set fewer goals, perhaps going from seven goals down to four for the last nine-week period."

Another teacher-parent conference takes place after the second semester.

At that time, a determination is made whether the student has progressed sufficiently to move on to the next grade or if it would be in the child's best interests to repeat the same grade the following year, Logas said.

"As long as the student puts forth the effort, we put out twice the effort," Ford said.

"I've watched some kids drop out and back in, drop out again and back in again until they finally graduated.

"When they get to the high school level, they see things looking pretty good on the outside until they find out the costs and responsibilities involved and realize you can't go far without a high school education."