JOPLIN, Mo. — Alternative school options are growing to include more students in the Joplin School District.
The district is adding a new alternative classroom, targeting Freshmen and Sophomores.
“The Arch in St. Louis is the gateway to the Midwest; a high school diploma is the gateway to life,” says Joplin High School Principal Dr. Steve Gilbreth.
Now, the Joplin School District has a new program to help keep younger students on the path to graduation.
Dr. Gilbreth says, “It’s not just a Junior-Senior problem. It actually probably starts way back in elementary school, and then carries through.”
A new alternative classroom will start up this fall, offering non traditional choices to Freshmen and Sophomores.
It will offer the basics as well as some important life skills.
Sarah Mwangi is the Joplin Assistant Superintendent, and says, “It’s focusing a lot on soft skills. They will do lessons anywhere from team work and collaboration to how to respond in conflict.”
The alternative classroom will operate at the Roi S. Wood campus, along with existing alternative programs for older students as well as the expanded virtual education project.
“We will have flex and go options,” says Mwangi.
79% of Joplin students made it to graduation in 2018, and school leaders say it’s a priority to improve that rate.
Mwangi explains, “If we save one kid the risk of dropping out, we’re making progress.”
Joplin has a long standing connection to the cooperative Beacon Alternative School.
They will continue to also offer that option for certain students who struggle in a traditional classroom.