Community support helps AEC students succeed

Monday, June 1, 2009

As the 2008-09 school year comes to a close here at the Alternative Education Center, I want to take a moment to reflect on the year's accomplishments, to thank our amazing staff and to recognize those business and community partners who make our program a reality.

Our first Partner in Education, Kelly Services, provided workshops for our students on topics ranging from resume building and interviews to important job skills. Their time and expertise truly made a difference in our student's lives.

Peak Performance donated six weeks of after-school taekwondo training, and financial support for student uniforms came from First State Community Bank, Kelso Supply and Regional Primary Care.

A partnership was developed with Southeast Missouri Hospital in the form of an internship program entitled "Achieve to Believe." To date, five AEC students have successfully completed this program. Additional internship opportunities were provided by Walgreen's Pharmacy and Dr. Bob Fox. AmerenUE will be offering internships for students this fall.

The Southeast Missourian is also providing a summer-long internship, and I especially want to mention former Missourian reporter Peg McNichol, who tirelessly worked to help our students produce a bimonthly newspaper.

Southeast Missouri State University is deserving of recognition for its GEAR UP program that provided an intern to assist students in preparing for the ACT, completing financial aid forms, researching college entrance requirements and conducting job interviews. I would also like to express my appreciation to the United Way of Southeast Missouri, which underwrote the cost of Ruby Payne training to positively impact the education and lives of individuals in poverty.

It's not just poverty that puts students at risk of dropping out of school. Pregnancy, divorce, health issues, behavioral issues, academic failure and substance abuse (both student and/or parents) are also factors. Our mission is to educate our students not only about academics, but also about making good choices, setting goals and planning for their future. I'm proud to announce that we graduated 29 students this year. An absolutely amazing staff, a supportive administration and a community effort of dedication and support have made this achievement possible. I am humbled by the generosity of this community.

Carla Fee is the director of the Cape Girardeau Alternative Education Center.

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