When it comes to trying a different approach in educating struggling youth, Warsaw Community School’s Gateway Education Center is pulling out all the stops. With programs offered to all ages, Gateway is working to provide education centered around a student’s needs. From adult education and training to special education and alternative learning programs, Gateway is working to ensure that all students are able to achieve their learning goals in a style that is best suited for them.
One of the many noteworthy programs offered at Gateway Education Center is the adult education program. According to Gateway Principal Steve Ferber, though the program is commonly noted for it’s GED course offerings, it also works to provide trade skills that help to make sure students are “work ready” upon graduating. Work training courses include welding certification and a CNA course.
“My hope would be that in the future other programs can be developed as well but, what they are I can’t say specifically right now,” said Ferber. “My hope is that we can offer more employee skills (to students).”
Though many adults may find the return to a classroom daunting, Ferber states that students are placed into different groups based on their educational needs. New students to the adult education program are asked to take a basic education test that will gauge where a students current education level is at. From there, students are divided into three separate groups to provide the most effective education approach possible.
“What happens first when a student comes to us to pursue their GED is they take a test of adult basic education. That gives us beginning and data points to start from. Once they take the test they are then placed into a grouping and are taught at their level. There is a 12 hour orientation period, after those 12 hours they officially become an adult education student and take their courses here (at Gateway). We are continually having those education programs each month,” stated Ferber.
In addition to GED and trade skill training, adults may also partake in the English as a Second Language program. Adult education is offered to students from Akron, Rochester, Wawasee, Warsaw and Fulton areas. Ferber stated that those interested may visit Gateway Education Center and talk with the adult education coordinator to sign up for courses or they may call 574-371-5019 for more information. There is no charge for those pursuing their GED outside of the cost for the GED test.
In addition to Adult Education, Gateway Education Center also offers a variety of Alternative Education programs to students. These programs are centered around the needs of students who may not be benefitting from a traditional educational approach based upon an emotional disability, life changing event and behavioral difficulties.
According to Ferber, the programs span three different grade levels: elementary, middle school and high school. Though Gateway offers credit earning courses with academic standards the same as its surrounding schools, Ferber notes that a major goal for the school with several of its programs is to help students transition back to a regular school setting.
One program offered at Gateway is the Alternative to Suspension and Expulsion program (ASE). According to Ferber, the program offers a setting for students who are currently serving a disciplinary action to come for half of their school day to continue working on academics and behavior skills. Though parents can deny their students enrollment into the program following a suspension or expulsion, Ferber states that very few parents opt out of the option. In addition, Ferber stated that a total of 88 credits were earned by students within the program.
Two other programs offered to students are the Rebound and AIMS programs, both of which offer venues of obtaining a high school degree to students who may not be able to secure a degree through traditional means.
According to Ferber, the Rebound program is offered to students who want to finish their high school diploma after dropping out of school. Ferber stated that the school has made home visits in the past to help encourage students to finish their diploma through the Rebound program.
The AIMS program also offers students another approach to procuring their high school diploma. According to Ferber, students within the program elect to enter into it based a variety of factors including life changing events such as teen pregnancy and financial stressors that necessitate the student be employed. Outside of students who are parents, all students within the program are required by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to have a job in order to gain work readiness and skills. Ferber stated that a total of 24 students earned diplomas that had been in the AIMS program at some point in the last year.
Though the program assists struggling students academically, according to Ferber it also aims to provide students with consultation to ensure their needs are met. A requirement all students in the Alternative learning program is attendance to group consultation with a Bowen Skills Coach.
“Within all of the groups, there is a group session with a mental health therapist who helps with life skills and health thinking,” said Ferber. “These individuals are provided by the Bowen Center. The sessions are required to students in grades k-12. Were looking to meet students at their level and meet them at their skills and knowledge base while keeping them with their peers. We hope that we build a deeper relationship so that they want to be here. Every classroom has a Bowen Skills Coach and we believe students are more likely to be successful if they have a significant adult at the school that they can trust and build a relationship with and that is going to help spur their interest and likelihood of being in school –its our job to try and form that relationship.”
Gateway Education Center will be taking applications for the A.I.M.S. and Rebound programs until Friday, Sept. 6. Ferber states that outside of traditional school fees such as textbooks and supplies, the program is free to interested students.
“Warsaw Community School Corporation is proud and privileged to have Gateway Education Center,” said Ferber. “Our community and school board have demonstrated generosity in an effort to reach struggling youth. We understand the value of an education and are using a variety of means to help individuals obtain a diploma or GED. We encourage anyone who has not finished their education to give us a call in hopes that we can help them.”