City Hill creates alternative path for students

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CityHillNAUGATUCK — City Hill Middle School is laying out a new path for struggling students to follow.

The school has created the Alternative Path Program for students struggling in a traditional classroom setting.

“It would be a different structure to the school day. The students [in the program] would have a delayed arrival and they would leave with the rest of the students,” City Hill Principal Brian Hendrickson explained to the Board of Education last Thursday.

The program, which was modeled after the Second Chance Program at Naugatuck High School with the help of Principal Janice Saam, will allow the students to be taught in a smaller setting, with more chance for one-on-one time with the teachers, rather than attending regular classes.

Hendrickson told the board that the program was ready to be implemented immediately. He wanted to bring the program before the board to receive its approval, which he received, before he moved forward.

Hendrickson said the program will be tuned to each student’s personal needs. He said that many of students that would participate in this program are at or above their grade level, but are unable to perform well in class do to social or emotional needs.

Hendrickson explained that there will be opportunities for these students to participate in afterschool activities and to have lunch with their peers.

The program is in response to the results of a recent survey.

Hendrickson said the school had taken a survey to identify the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats in the school. The survey, known as the S.W.O.T. analysis, was filled out by students, teachers, and staff.

“One of the things that emerged in that analysis was that there seems to be a need to service a segment of the students who have a very difficult time in a regular academic setting,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said the school has implemented interventions, such as behavior plans, to help these students. However, this population of students has social and emotional needs that can not be addressed in the current classroom.

“A lot of services have been offered, but they have not been having great success in the regular environment,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson explained that in the analysis the students who would be taking part in this program indicated that they felt they would be more likely to learn in a smaller setting with less stimulation.

Hendrickson described the program as preventative, rather than reactive, and one that will help students get back into regular classrooms with their peers.

“The goal is to get them to be successful at the high school, outside of this program,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said the school has a core of six students at the moment that it has been identified for this program. While there is no maximum number, he does not see the number of students rising above 12.

Hendrickson said the program will be tuned to each student’s personal needs. He said that many of students that will participate in this program are at or above their grade level, but are unable to perform well in class do to social or emotional needs.

The cost of the program is $15,000, which includes the salary of three teachers for the program.

Hendrickson explained most teachers teach five classes a day. The teachers in the program will be teaching an extra class per day.

Board member Glenn Connan said the $15,000 was a good investment to put students in an environment where they can learn and out of a classroom where they can disrupt the education of the other students.