Archive for Thursday, March 10, 2005

New Decisions program helps LHS students achieve success

March 10, 2005

For students who need additional academic and emotional support, there's a place at Lansing High School that can provide it.

The New Decisions program is in its third year at the high school and has had a positive effect on its participants, said Mary Alice Schroeger, a program coordinator and LHS teacher.

The program's goal is to help students who have been identified by teachers, administration, parents or themselves as unsuccessful in school, for whatever reason. Teaching these students how to make healthier decisions is a major part of the curriculum.

"I'm really trying to get them on the road to academic success," said program teacher Susan Murphy. "In the interpersonal area, I work with them on making positive choices in their lives - in all areas of their lives."

She said she stressed setting goals, communicating, teaching students to respect themselves and make choices against tobacco, alcohol, drugs and violence.

Murphy, who holds a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in family counseling, is in her first year as the New Decisions teacher. She said she worked about 25 hours a week with LHS sophomores, juniors and seniors.

New Decisions students number 15, but Murphy sees them in groups of three to six every day. Murphy said students sometimes drop in to see her outside of regular class hours, too.

"I try to check and see what they have coming up, what they have to plan for, what kind of papers or tests," Murphy said. "If they've been absent, I make sure they know what their makeup work is and get it in."

Funding for the program comes from the Juvenile Justice Authority's Juvenile Prevention Grant, which is run through the 1st Judicial District, covering Atchison and Leavenworth counties.

Anne deShazo, Juvenile Justice Authority Prevention Service coordinator, said LHS had received $22,479, both this year and last.

"For fiscal year 2006 (July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006), the district has requested the same amount of funding," deShazo said. She added that the deadline for next year's grant was Dec. 1 and that approval was pending.

Students in the program range from those who have been involved in personal trauma to those who feel they need a little extra support to get them through school. Murphy said some of her students were honor-roll-recognized, they just needed a firmer support system.

Murphy said there was a waiting list and that there were many more students who could benefit from the program than they could accommodate. She said she was at capacity with the current number.

To participate in the program, students must have their parents or guardians sign a permission form.

"We have some cases where people have just really turned around," Schroeger said. "(There are) people who were getting D's and F's and they become A's and B's."

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