Personalized learning is key to student success at an alternative learning center, where students who could not learn in traditional or online settings have thrived, graduated, and found their learning niche.

The Tokata Learning Center is the Shakopee Public School district’s alternative learning center, and serves 107 students in ninth through twelfth grades.

“The two weeks that I went to the junior high it was all too stressful. I couldn’t handle going, so eventually I convinced my mom to go to online school,” said Alexis Cain, one of two recent graduates. “But then after the first few weeks I realized I could sleep instead or go to the mall instead, so I fell behind. There was no reason I wanted to do it.”

When Cain’s mother died in February 2015, her struggles became even more intense.

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“That was part of the reason I failed in online school,” she said. “It gave me another excuse not to do the school work. After I finished the online course, we started looking into Tokata because I had too many excuses not to do (my work).”

After shadowing a friend who attended Tokata, she decided to give it a try. She began attending in her sophomore year, became engaged in classes, and found it was easier to stay on task and on target with her work.

Tokata has longer class periods than a conventional school, so teachers instruct for part of the time and help students with questions on their own work the rest of the time.

“The most important thing about Tokata is that they can accommodate every student, and they really do go out of their way to make sure everyone is welcome,” Cain said.

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