PIQUA — Four Miami County schools are now on board for a program to help high school students in academic need that has a proven track record in Darke County.
For the first time, officials at Piqua, Covington, Newton and Bradford schools are able to enroll students in the ACES Program. Established in Darke County, the move into Miami County is a collaborative expansion effort between Darke and Miami County schools, both Darke and Miami County Educational Service Centers, and the Council on Rural Services (CRS) in Piqua.
ACES stands for Achievement Center for Educational Success and falls under the Gateway Youth Programs unit of the CRS. According to CRS, the plan is to provide a structured, supportive and educational environment for students who are being unsuccessful in the regular school setting.
The program also offers services to address social, emotional, behavioral and substance abuse needs while receiving academic credit towards their high school diploma.
Participating Darke County school districts include Ansonia, Arcanum-Butler, Franklin Monroe, Mississinawa Valley, Tri-Village and Versailles. Classes for Miami County students are held at the CRS, 201 RM Davis Parkway, Piqua.
According to Program Coordinator Jeff Vaughn of Greenville, the ACES program assists students in grades 9-12 who may be credit-deficient, have inappropriate credits to graduate, in need of academic interventions, and in need of an alternative to expulsion or dropping out.
“The students are required to earn their graduation credits and pass the state standardized test. These kids were close to being a dropout. This is a win-win because we are going to have about 30 students graduate with a diploma from their home school district,” Vaughn said.
He said the graduation rate of those participating is in the high 90’s percentagewise.
School referrals needed for ACES program
Students are referred to ACES by their home school principal and/or guidance counselor. If being considered for enrollment, an intake meeting will be held with the student, their parent or guardian, school officials and ACES staff to determine if the student is appropriate for the program.
ACES offer two sessions of classes and can serve up to 15 students per session. The first session is from 8:30-11 a.m., and second session is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students are assigned to a session based on their transportation needs.
Instructor Deron Johns has taught this program for the past eight years in Greenville. He has seen the positive results first hand and touts the plan highly.
“These are students that most thrive in a small setting. They need more individualized instruction. It’s like the one-room schoolhouse as we are all in one room. With this smaller population we just don’t have that high school drama.”
Johns said they study two subjects at a time plus mathematics. Art classes and public service projects are provided. Also included are studies of employment and social skills, peer interaction, and drug and alcohol awareness.
Vaughn said students conduct their coursework through independent study courses similar to online programs supervised by an intervention specialist and educational aides. This allows for flexibility throughout the entire school year, he said.
The student’s goal is to attempt to complete four courses per semester. Students that are more motivated have the opportunity to complete more credits during the semester if they choose to put forth the effort, Vaughn explained.
Johns said, “A lot of these kids, and their parents, are mistrustful of teachers, for whatever reason from their past. We need to build that trust back up. I’ve had parents thank us for helping their child. Former students have come back and told us the same.”
“These kids need to know that someone won’t give up on them. Sometimes they just need somebody to listen to them.”
For more information, contact Jeff Vaughn, program coordinator, by calling (937) 548-8002.
Jim Painter is a freelance writer from Sidney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.