The Seneca Learning Center (SLC) was created in 2015 with the goal of helping students succeed in high school in a way that works best for them.
John Wyrick is the administrator of the SLC and his wife, Dee, is the instructor. They have been with the SLC since it was created.
“The SLC offers students another way to graduate from high school and obtain lifelong/workplace skills because the obtainment of a high school diploma and workplace skills are imperative to the future success of our students,” said John Wyrick.
He said there are 11 students enrolled in the SLC all day, five morning-only students, and six afternoon-only students.
In the 2017-18 school year there have been four graduates. Marissa Bonilla, Ally Gonzalez, Trevor Tollefsrud, and Kaysha Eads all graduated early after meeting all high school requirements at the SLC.
“The students had to go through an exit interview with Dr. Cummins and talk about their experience and what they accomplished, and then he dismissed them from school so they can go be successful in the workplace or wherever they are going,” said Wyrick.
“I get to learn their story and it’s nice. The kids who come here know that there is someone pushing them and that is so great to hear,” said Dr. Jim Cummins, superintendent of schools.
The students that attend the SLC are there for several different reasons, and not all are behavioral.
“Our kids come to us for all different reasons. Some need to work longer hours, some are behind on credits, traditional school didn’t work for various reasons, some of them are home school students without accredited courses, some had attendance issues, some do better in a small class size, some have social/anxiety issues, etc.,” said Wyrick.
“The flexibility also offers them the chance to go to school for half-day if that helps them be successful or enables them to work longer hours.”
In the SLC, the students work at their own pace and in their own way. Each student has an individualized learning plan that is flexible.
“We meet with the kids once a week and look at their progress and see if they are ahead, behind, or right on track for their goal,” said Wyrick.
Edgenuity is the software program the students use at the SLC. The Wyricks have created 65 courses based on essential standards and collaboration with the high school staff.
“The mastery level is set at 70 percent to progress in each class and the credit recovery courses are set at 80 percent or higher to skip that unit,” said Wyrick.
Something that all the students at the SLC need is English/communication arts.
“We are working with students who weren’t assessed during the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) era and they struggle with outlines, thesis statements, structure, etc.,” said Wyrick.
“We revised our procedures and explicitly taught these skills this year and it is improving.”
The Wyricks will present this process at the Missouri Alternative Education Network (MAEN) conference this summer. At the 2017 conference the Wyricks presented planning and implementing an alternative school and this year they will present on intervention and motivation and increasing success in the writing process at an alternative school.
When the SLC first started they were leasing a building on Cherokee Street in town, but with the start of the 2017-18 school year they moved it to an outbuilding at the high school.
“We have all new chairs, dividers, paint, carpet, and it’s been really nice here and is working really well for us,” said Wyrick. “The best part is that it is versatile so we can make it do whatever we want it to.”
The move to the high school campus has also allowed the SLC students to take electives. Students are now able to be involved with choir, band, and other classes taught in the high school.
“We have also developed a career explorations (robotics/mechanical and coding), learning electronics, art, and engineering design or 3D printing,” said Wyrick.
In addition to those electives students have also been able to take advantage of other opportunities.
“We have afternoon students who attend a class at Crowder College in the morning but need more than three credits at high school to graduate, and here at the SLC we can make that happen,” said Wyrick.
Internships have also been used and other community interest-based internships are being explored.
“We really just are trying to help the students who need to get a diploma by whatever means necessary and make sure they will be productive citizens once they obtain that goal,” said Wyrick.
“We are very proud of all the work the students have put in and the things they have accomplished.”