Bremen School Board looks at The Crossing

BREMEN — Students who have problems with school, especially those who have dropped out, will have another option after the Bremen School Board approved a motion regarding The Crossing — an accredited alternative school.
The school corporation will be working with the Wa-Nee School District to have the option available for students who otherwise did not succeed at Bremen or at the Bremen Academy. Wa-Nee is asking that Bremen participate in cooperation with them in order to fill 25 slots for the program.
The Crossing is a faith-based accredited alternative school, grades 9-12, modeled to fit the needs of struggling students who do not function best in a normal school environment and will use a self-paced curriculum with students studying at their own ability levels. The school, whose main campus is located in Elkhart, includes students from school districts including Elkhart, Goshen, Ligonier, South Bend and New Haven integrates four core areas of focus. These include: Academics, Character (which is addressed during daily family time where students discuss life issues related to biblical principals), Leadership (which includes a leadership academy where students to service projects) and Careers (in which students develop and engage in a career path as part of their high school curriculum).
Rob Staley, educator and executive director at The Crossing was present at the Bremen School Board meeting to explain in detail about the school which contracts with 20 different school corporations at 11 different campuses. Staley noted The Crossing student-teacher ratio is only 1-6 students and all class work is done on the computer in the computer labs with teachers working alongside the students. The Crossing limits its student population in order to maintain the ratio so that students get individualized attention.
Students who attend the school could finish all grade levels at The Crossing if necessary or they could go back and attend high school at the Bremen High School — on campus. If desired, students attending The Crossing can attend The Crossing for their core classwork and then attend Bremen for such classes as Band. He also pointed out that students who desire to do so can also participate in sports as long as their grades and other requirements were met for participation.
Besides academics, The Crossing also includes (as part of its curriculum) outside trips including some for kayaking and camping, which are also taken by students and staff outside classroom time. These are said to help encourage leadership, cooperation and confidence. Staley noted that those who work for the school must agree to be available outside school hours — unlike teachers at the public school — not only for such trips, but also in case a student needs to talk to someone outside school hours. More individual attention is offered by The Crossing for students in career class opportunities so that students needs are met and they graduate with a plan, either a career or furthering their education. He noted that it is an accredited program with students receiving diplomas from the schools that register them to The Crossing. 
Bremen graduate, Jesse Bohannon who now works for The Crossing as adult education coordinator, was also present to highly praise the program which high school principal, Bruce Jennings, noted as a good option. 
Bremen, which approved five slots for 2011-2012, will use The Crossing as a tool, being the last of three possibilities for students who struggle with such issues as poor grades, attendance problems, discipline issues, relational concerns, addictions, emotional instability, problems with the law and learning disabilities. The first option at Bremen is to work more with the student and the second is the Bremen Academy program, which is now in place. This third option, which is considered to be the last option, is being considered only when other options have been depleted, such as for those who have already dropped out of Bremen Public Schools. Students and parents will not be able to just ask for their student to take part in the program, rather, the school corporation has to agree that they can attend as a registered Bremen student. The slots are not an option for those who are considered adults but for those who may have dropped out recently within the past few years. The Crossing offers another separate program for adults, at night.
Staley noted that The Crossing would contact students who had dropped out, offering them the possibility of attending the school in order to obtain their diploma. Funding for the cost of the program would be paid through the state after students are registered as students through Bremen. Students attending The Crossing would be able to take the Elkhart Career Center bus to and from the Wa-Nee Crossings location.