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Center may offer alternative learning

The Gerdon Youth Center in Corydon has received a Metro United Way Venture Grant and additional funding from the Harrison County Community Foundation which may allow them to open an alternative school for non-violent, out-of-school youth in Harrison County as soon as January, said Debbie Heazlitt, executive director of the youth center.
The funding from United Way is a one-time start-up grant for $24,807 and the Foundation has contributed another $14,000, bringing the total to $38,807. Heazlitt said they also applied for other grants that were not approved.
“The purpose of the school will be to provide youth who are out of school, for whatever reason, a place to earn credit toward high school graduation, a GED or to maintain their educational direction,” Heazlitt said. “We’ll also try to keep kids from dropping out of school.”
The school will accommodate students in the South Harrison, Lanesville and North Harrison school districts, youth who have been placed at Wyandotte House, foster homes, and adjudicated youth who will be placed in the school by the Harrison County Circuit Court.
The youth center will provide the space for the school, and Heazlitt will act as the administrator on site.
A full-time teacher, a full-time aide and a part-time aide will be employed at the school. Heazlitt expects the school to be able to work with about 15 students initially.
Heazlitt said the curriculum will most likely be one that will allow the students to work individually on a computer at their own pace with the help of a teacher.
“This will not be a traditional classroom. The teacher we hire will have to be experienced and able to work with children in many different age groups and grade levels at the same time,” Heazlitt said.
“We’ll most likely have kids from eight different grade levels at the school on any given day,” she said.
“Students might attend the school for as little as one day or may be there for extended periods, depending on their situation,” Heazlitt said.
“The students will receive intensive one-on-one support from the teacher and the aides, and hopefully build real relationships while they are there,” she said.
Heazlitt said there has been a lot of enthusiasm for this school, which she refers to as a Success Center, from community leaders.
At a meeting in February concerning the development of the school, about 40 people from all segments of the community attended, including county school district superintendents, attorneys, probation officers and concerned citizens.
“We will be conducting another meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 29, to determine how to proceed with the school and to determine the needs of each school district,” Heazlitt said. “We want to know how we can tailor a program to fit their specific needs.
“This meeting is open to all county officials and interested citizens, and will hopefully result in the formation of a steering committee to oversee the school,” Heazlitt said. “We don’t have a lot of time between now and January.”
The planning session will be conducted at the Gerdon Youth Center, 600 E. Chestnut St., Corydon, at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served.
People planning to attend this meeting are asked to call 738-1696 by Friday, Oct. 25.