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Too often, students feel as though they do not belong, they get lost in the large high school environment.  We strive to create a community where every student can find his/her niche.  We start out our school year with a trip to Camp Minikani—a day camp that works on team building and personal mastery.  Students work together to reach a common goal whether it is to reach the top of a rock climbing wall, walk 100 feet across a tight rope 50 feet in the air, or balance a platform holding 20 kids.  The students build lasting relationships in just one afternoon. 


Our development of belonging does not end when that fall day ends.  We continue to foster current friendships and create new relationships with activities throughout the school year including a monthly school-community meal (prepared by the students), a monthly field trip to places like Discovery World, the Milwaukee Public Museum, Growing Power, etc., as well as monthly community service projects like Mittens for Kids and Pennies for Patients.  We believe in the strong power of relationships and a true sense of belonging will encourage growth.

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We set our expectations high knowing that students will rise to the challenge and feel a sense of accomplishment when they do.  Each student must meet respective districts’ high school graduate requirements.  Additionally, students meet a minimum requirement of 80% proficiency to show mastery of each subject area, which is well above the requirement set in the traditional high school.  We work closely with our students to ensure their success and mastery.

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Students experience a balance of autonomy throughout their time at Connects Learning Center.  Students participate in creating a class constitution which allows them the power to create an environment that is conducive to their learning.  Students participate in weekly maintenance of the building and grounds, which provides the students with life skills as well as ownership for the building.  Additionally, students choose their methods of credit attainment (i.e. packet-based, computer-based, experiential, or a combination of the three), and are encouraged to set goals for attendance (90% minimum), credit attainment, and graduation date.  Both the student and the staff share the responsibility of monitoring goals and making adjustments when necessary.

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Generosity is a very important component of the Connects Learning Center philosophy.  Students have multiple opportunities throughout the school year to engage in activities that encourage generosity.  In previous school years, students took part in the Linus Project—a service learning opportunity that benefited the youth in the community.  The students of CLC hand-made over 40 blankets and donated those blankets to Project Linus whose mission is “to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers.’”  Additionally, the CLC students invited a group of students with special needs to help with their venture.  The CLC students worked one-on-one teaching the younger students a new skill.  The project earned the students a short spotlight on the Channel 12 News.

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Experential Learning 

In addition to the computer-based coursework, we believe experiential learning, which includes field trips, projects, and student-designed activities can improve mastery. Furthermore, the curriculum is based on applied knowledge, creative problem solving and decision-making.  Connects Learning Center provides students with nontraditional approaches to meeting their high school graduation requirements.  The CLC staff continuously develops relevant strategies for working with youth at risk inspired by the Circle of Courage philosophy described in Reclaiming Youth at Risk; Our Hope for the Future (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 2002).  We create/foster a school setting that strongly resembles a small community in which the student has the opportunity to develop a sense of belonging, generosity, mastery, and independence; traits necessary for developing a positive self-image as well as a positive school culture.

Career & College Readiness

Connects Learning Center hosts a college fair each year.  Several 2-year and 4-year college representitives participate giving students the opportunity to ask questions, start the application porcess, and learn what their future could have in store for them.  Additionally, we have guest speakers from a variety of post-secondary institutions that provide seminars and workshops for our students.  Finally, we visit several college campuses throughout the school year to give students an idea of what college life could be for them.

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