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Education

Oswego CiTi working with schools to create programs for disengaged students

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James F Clay
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Oswego County's Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, also known as Oswego BOCES, is working with he county's nine school districts to develop a program to helps students with emotional, social and behavioral needs. The specialized classes will attempt to reengage those students and help them succeed academically.

Christopher Todd, district superintendent for the Oswego County BOCES region, says the programs will draw disenfranchised students attending schools all over the county.

"What we would love is to have disengaged children come into the program and then reengage back at their home schools," Todd said. "That happens about 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent of the time, the kids are doing so well in an alternative setting they stay in an alternative setting."

He says the programs will also take a different approach to provide more direct and specialized services for these students to keep them engaged.
"Knowing something about a student and what drives them, whether it's something as simple as a TV show or what food they like or what their family structure is like, or if they have siblings, what's their relationship with their siblings?" Todd explained. "You know, adults making connections with kids is what keeps them in school."

Those personal connections give students a reason to want to come to school, but Todd says there is much more to it than just having the right teachers available.

"Find out what the students' needs are, but then put the professionals in place to meet those needs," Todd said. "You might have counseling needs, you'll certainly have academic needs, because academics is always at the forefront of these programs. You may have mental health needs, and the list goes on and on."

And although Todd says he knows the alternative classes can't help all the targeted students, they can be successful.

"Our goal is to have all of these students graduate with a Regents diploma," Todd said. "A Regents diploma is what the standing diploma is, and is the standard in New York state. And most alternative programs, the successful ones, students graduate at a reasonably high level."

Todd says a proposal will be ready for the school districts within the next month, and the programs could be up and running by fall 2015.