Success, not failure

Monday, February 16, 2004

Whether it's learning a new skill for a job or just finishing a homework assignment, area students are learning lessons about responsibility through programs that do not add any financial strain.

The programs were designed primarily by teachers who had their students' best interests in mind. And it's worth noting that when students benefit, the community reaps rewards as well.

Students in a work-experience program at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center learn how to develop good job skills and fill openings at area hotels and nursing centers. Giving the students a job also gives them confidence and marketable skills they'll use later in life.

The program is open to disadvantaged and disabled students from Jackson, Scott City and Cape Girardeau who struggle in traditional classroom settings.

Another program for students who don't always behave at school makes sure that suspensions aren't going to create greater problems for them when they return to class. The Cape Girardeau County Juvenile Office operates a classroom that gives suspended students an option to earn credit for classwork they would otherwise miss.

High schools and junior high schools in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Delta are eligible to send students to the program at no cost to the districts.

Most of the 25 students who have participated so far were suspended for 10 days or less and were there for insubordination or using inappropriate language or arguing with a teacher. But if a student misbehaves in the suspension classroom, parents are notified and the student isn't allowed back.

Another new program has been implemented at Jackson schools this year.

Under the homework policy, students complete assignments or face detention. There are several layers to the policy. A first offense gets a note sent to parents. A second offense means a 30-minute detention. And a third offense is a referral to the principal and a two-hour detention.

As a result of the policy, some students have seen their failing grades rise. The district has given out 8 percent fewer Ds and Fs since implementing the policy. School officials say the policy teaches that failure isn't an option. It teaches responsibility instead.

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