It may seem surprising to some, but today’s alternative schools foster success and are a viable academic alternative for at risk students.
After years of failure and being shut down, the Savannah-Chatham Public School System’s alternative school programs are on a positive course, since The Building Bridges alternative middle and high school programs were created.
“Alternative school used to be reckless. Children were just in the hallway being bad,” said Building Bridges Middle School student Rashawn Porter. “Now it’s different. I love school.”
For many years, the K-12 alternative school was punitive and perceived as a dumping ground for students who would drop out. The district shut it down. A successful elementary school alternative program called Fresh Start was created by Executive Director Aretha Rhone Bush. A private company, Ombudsman, promised to use a business approach with computerized instruction for middle and high school students who were convicted of felonies, suspended, or expelled. Ombudsman’s program failed to engage students, or deal with their behavioral, social, and psychological issues. A large number of students failed and the program was shut down.
Enter the Building Bridges Academies, housed at the old Scott Learning Center behind Woodville Tompkins High School. High school courses are focused on college and career readiness, with attention to ensure each student is able to graduate. The classes are small and specialized. In the middle school, a military sciences program introduces students to life skills and careers.