Park Avenue receives high accreditation
Park Avenue Alternative Education site was recently highly accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The report states that the staff’s administration has changed and improved and engaged in professional development in the area of bullying, Common Core, reading literacy and DataWise.
The community’s perception of the school has also changed for the positive, according to the report, and rather than mark what the school needs to improve on, several points are made for the school to “Continue to improve.” The strong administrative leadership, supportive staff and provided parenting and community resources were also highlighted in the report.
“Generally, they will say, ‘You need to look at this and this was mediocre, work on these things…’ We had six bullets that all said, “Continue to improve,” which is nice, because it means we’re already improving and doing a good job,” said Principal Marty Mathiesen.
Mathiesen came to the school from Nevada Union for the 2011-12 school year and said he wanted to focus on the school’s goals after gaining credibility and trust from the staff.
“This is the year we put everything in place and looked at what were the barriers to our kids’ academic success and doing surveys,” said Mathiesen, who noted that substance abuse, physiological needs and disengagement were some of the challenges.
“The quote we use to put in place is ‘We run one offense,’” Mathiesen said, which means the staff and classrooms are uniform, and students understand real-world situations.
“We care enough about our kids to discipline them,” Mathiesen said. “I’m not going to let them down and let kids wear their pants low, use profanity, and disrespect others. You can’t do that and get a job. It’s not an issue of punishment, it’s an issue of supporting them enough to know what their responsibilities are.”
The school has also implemented Literacy Wednesday, a vocabulary and reading enrichment program where students identify important words and concepts from an excerpt each week.
“It’s really supported their academic learning,” Mathiesen said.
There are about 30 teachers on staff for Silver Springs High School, which is a continuation school, and Sierra Foothill, for students not on target to meet graduation. Park Avenue Alternative also has a program to assist pregnant and parenting teens, as well as the Reaching Individualized Success through Education program, which serves students with emotional and behavioral challenges.
The accreditation is on a six-year cycle which WASC can determine requires an evaluation annually, or after two or three years, Mathiesen said.
The school received a two-year accreditation in the 2010-11 school year, with a one-year evaluation, and then after that evaluation it was determined that the school would not need another evaluation until the end of the six-year cycle.
“We had another revisit with propensity for a three-year cycle, which could be the best we could possibly do,” Mathiesen said. “Now we’re going to carry all the way through until 2015-16.”
As a way to stimulate student interest in higher education, Mathiesen plans to take all seniors in Park Avenue to Sierra College May 17.
“I’m taking all of my seniors to look at what they have to offer and it really means reducing apprehension for kids with these backgrounds to look at certifications and possibilities,” Mathiesen said.
The growth of the students over time is something Mathiesen said makes his job worthwhile.
“We’re going to be a school of choice, and we’re all going to give our kids our best,” Mathiesen said. “Every time we see these kids from where they were to where they are now, their maturity levels and opening up, it makes my heart melt.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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