Education

Finding individualized, unique programs in YUSD’s Alternative Education

Members of the Yosemite Union School District’s Alternative Education program include, from left, teacher Amy Weigel, Principal Dr. Stacy Nicol, Registrar Lawnna Porter, teacher Kristi DeBernardi, teacher Nadine Wright, and teacher Talitha Musacchio.
Members of the Yosemite Union School District’s Alternative Education program include, from left, teacher Amy Weigel, Principal Dr. Stacy Nicol, Registrar Lawnna Porter, teacher Kristi DeBernardi, teacher Nadine Wright, and teacher Talitha Musacchio. Sierra Star

Everyone’s familiar with the three R’s - but many educators feel the 5 C’s are more accurate for today’s ever changing world: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Citizenship, and Creativity.

And that theme has been embraced by the Yosemite Unified School District Alternative Education Program.

The YUSD Alternative Education Program includes the Yosemite Falls Education Center, including John Muir Academy, South and North, Tioga Trails, Raymond Granite High School (a small necessary school), Ahwahnee Continuation School, Campbell Community Day School, and Evergreen Independent Study.

The programs at these schools offer a blend of the traditional face-to-face classroom room setting with online independent instruction, with an individualized learning program for each student - a trend that is becoming popular over the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to education.

John Muir Academy

“I like to describe it as home school meets the modern one room schoolhouse,” said John Muir Academy North teacher Kristi DeBernardi.

DeBernardi said the John Muir Academy North (at YHS) and South (at Yosemite Lakes Park) provide programs for parents motivated to take charge of their children’s education.

“We offer plenty of instructional support for parents and modified hours to allow families more efficient learning time.” DeBernardi said.

All 11 of the teachers in the district’s Alternative Education Program value strong partnerships and open communication with students and their parents.

“We have the flexibility to provide an individualized learning program for each child so each student gets exactly what they need,” said Nadine Wright, teacher at John Muir Academy South. “We provide quality reading instruction for beginning readers and we have the ability to make adjustments throughout the school year as needed.”

Tioga Trails

Tioga Trails is a new ninth grade program through Yosemite Alternative Education, where students work together as a team in a self-contained class with Amy Weigel for their core instruction. The students can also take up to two courses at Yosemite High School.

Weigel explained that Tioga Trails provides a blended classroom with students mixing online and traditional coursework.

“For students who may have struggled in the past, our goal is to give students a solid foundation through personalized instruction and project-based learning,” Weigel said. “We are excited about this new addition to our Yosemite Alternative family of schools.”

“We have a strong focus on health standards and social and emotional learning,” Weigel said. “We will keep close ties with students’ families, and uphold accountability between home and school. Students will leave Tioga Trails ready to meet 10th through 12th grade as active, independent learners.”

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls will also offer a blended learning experience, and is a program in which students receive instruction, in part, via digital and online media.

Yosemite Falls will incorporate a Project-Based Learning (PBL) model based on students gaining knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time on a subject through problem solving.

“In addition, the students in this program will have over 25 elective class choices, including foreign languages, and can participate at the comprehensive K-12 school sites in such programs as band and athletics,” said teacher Talitha Musacchio.

Parental Involvement Policy

The alternative education programs have a Parental Involvement Policy that clearly spells out what is expected of parents who have students participating in one of the alternative programs, as well as what the district will provide through parental involvement programs and activities.

The policy points out that parents will be provided material on how to work with teachers, how to work with their children, and how to monitor their child’s progress.

The full policy is on the district’s website, www.yosemiteusd.com.

Adult School

Adult Education offers high school diploma program, testing on HISET which is a high school equivalency exam and a computer lab available to students. The adult school teachers are Dana Hall and Tony Misner.

Dr. Stacy Nicol is the principal of alternative education, and about 200 students are enrolled in the various programs.

“We are very excited to open this year with growing programs and adding to new programs to the YHS Alternative Education Programs,” Nicol said.

Details: Lawnna Porter, (559) 683-8801, ext 366.

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