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It takes a village

April 28, 2012
By Klint Willert - Marshall Schools superintendent , Marshall Independent

The decision regarding the former Marshall-Lyon County Library has certainly been interesting. At the very least, the discussions about the possibilities of locating the Marshall East Campus Learning Alternative School in the former Marshall-Lyon County Library has created community interest and awareness about the alternative school and alternative education programming.

Alternative schools have grown nationally, both in the number of alternative schools and the quality of the programming provided in the alternative schools. The alternative school efforts originally focused on meeting the academic needs of potential school drop-outs.

The programming in the alternative schools was innovative and flexible to meet the needs of the students. The model included opportunities for credit recovery and support in order to ensure academic success and a high school diploma.

However, like other areas of education, the view of alternative education is quickly changing. As communities realize the need for a quality work-force, school administrators and school boards are embracing the idea that alternative schools must have strong connections to the fabric of the community.

These connections provide opportunities to create an educated workforce to fill jobs and to start small businesses in the community.

However, the challenge for alternative education programs is to find and create connected learning opportunities that create relevance for student learning related to the needs of the students and community.

The Marshall Public School leaders realized that the former library location for the alternative school could create a learning environment that was connected to our community.

By locating the school in the library location, students could be afforded opportunities to have work-based learning experiences where the skills learned in the classroom could be immediately applied in downtown businesses.

The Marshall High School has a successful internship program currently in place. The work-based internship program currently in place at the Marshall High School could be expanded to our alternative high school students through a strategic location in our community.

The Marshall Public Schools remains deeply committed to ensuring a quality long-term location for the alternative learning center to meet our goals as well as the needs of our students and community.

As the district strives to meet the needs of all students the district staff and leaders are charged with educating, it is essential that we remain committed to all educational options and alternatives.

We know our community will continue needing small businesses, qualified employees, and successful citizens. Alternative education programming can help our community fulfill that need. It truly takes a village to ensure we sustain our success in the region and in Minnesota.

The willingness of our village to embrace the need for alternative education options in our community along with a vision how the alternative educational programming can serve the long-term economic needs of our community and region is essential.

By working together, we can meet the ever-changing educational needs of our emerging generations. We can also ensure long-term economic development and community sustainability.

Our future as a community and a region depends on our ability to deliver on the commitment of our village to achieve the vision of Marshall Public Schools which is to "develop the potential of each learner for success in a changing world."



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