HOLMEN, Wis. -- Many high school students have a dream of what their life will be like after they graduate.
"After high school, I'd like to go to technical college and then maybe start with some career," said Austin Stolt, Holmen High School junior. "And maybe later in the future go back to a university for four years or something."93870
Austin is a Holmen High School junior, but he doesn't walk the halls of this building.
"I kind of skipped a lot of school and I started to become truant," said Stolt.
In January, Austin was enrolled in the Holmen School District ACE program which stands for Aquiring Credits Electronically.
"I was up for anything because normal school just wasn't working for me," said Stolt.
ACE, which is now housed in Christ the King Church in Holmen, was created eleven years ago and has been lead by Ms. Zindorf.
"We were seeing many students who didn't want to conform, and who didn't have the tools that are needed to work effectively in a crowded classroom of upwards of 35 kids in one classroom and one teacher," said Rita Zindorf, ACE program teacher.
So, to help students who were struggling with a traditional classroom, the ACE program was developed which uses a computer-based curriculum to teach students the lessons they need to receive their diploma.
"They're learning the same curriculum, but it's a little bit motified and as much as it meets the Wisconsin standards, but it's electronic,"said Zindorf. "So, the same assignments are not given."
The ACE program also offers more one-on-one interaction between the students and the teacher, almost daily communication with parents or guardians, and a small setting of only 13 students which opens the door for discussions if someone is having a bad day.
"I give them some time to talk about it... not long," said Zindorf. "A little bit of time to talk about it. Maybe I'll let them go for a walk outside. Maybe I'll let them chat with a friend a bit. But then we have to get down to work. Now, in a regular classroom of 35 students, a teacher cannot have the time to do that. They simply cannot stop their day to mentor one student. So, that is a huge difference in this program."
District Administrators say programs like ACE are important because their ultimate goal is to make sure every child graduates and is prepared for life after high school.
"It's important to have them in place because first of all, it's our obligation to make sure our students are educated," said Richard Johnson, Holmen School District director of pupil services. "Secondly, there is a cost in the long run to having students who have not graduated from school in terms of economic potential, connection with the community, and civic responsibility."
"We at Holmen, and many of the schools in the state of Wisconsin, are embracing all learners," said Zindorf. "What do we have to do? What can we do together to make sure that this student graduates?"
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says programs like ACE are a great example of alternative education that helps prevent kids from suspension, expulsion or ultimately not receiving their diploma.
"We want all students to do their best to be appropriate citizens, to love each other and their families, and to move forward," said Zindorf.
The ACE program is doing just that for Austin.
"It seems like I've kind of grown up since I've been here," said Stolt. "I started to focus more on school and just don't do as many bad things as I used to . I just kind of became a better person since I've been here."