Assignment: Education – Hope Academy

Family and Children's Center program for teen moms

Receiving a high school diploma is a milestone many people hope to achieve along the road of life. But sometimes the path traveled to reach that goal has unexpected twists and turns.

Logan High School student Karley Deal became pregnant in 2013 at the age of 16.

“I was scared,” said Karley. “And my family was scared for me too.”

A program provided by the Family and Children’s Center in La Crosse is offering hope.

“The high school graduation rate for teen moms is not good,” said Dianne Range, a social worker for Hope Academy.

“Hope Academy is a school for young teen moms and their children.”

The teen moms go to school at the academy every day with their babies. But instead of heading straight to class, they start their morning in the day care room.

“We start out with singing songs and reading books to the kids,” said Karley, “and then we feed them breakfast.”

The babies are then left with child care providers while the moms head down the hall to begin working on their high school credits.

“We work with the referring school districts and we look at what they require for their seniors, and that’s what we offer,” said Range.

But the time spent at Hope Academy does more than prepare students to receive their high school diplomas.

“They’re also learning about how to be a mom, and how to be a community member, and how to be an employee,” said Range. “And so we’re looking at all the skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.”

For these students, finding future success is about developing a post-graduation plan.

“All the girls leave us with having taken a college prep test. So, whether that’s the ACT or whether that’s the Compass at WTC,” said Range. “We take tours of the surrounding universities. We have speakers come in and talk about the next steps. All of the girls have FAFSAs which is the financial aid requirement. They have all of those filled out before they leave us.”

This year, five seniors are graduating from Hope Academy.

“I don’t think I’d be graduating if I didn’t come over here,” said Karley.

Each student will also receive a diploma from their original high school.

“They’ll be walking away from us and from their high school with the same high school diploma that their peers have. We’re very proud of that,” said Range.

Karley’s accomplishment gives her a boost along her life’s journey while helping the program for teen moms maintain its 100 percent graduation rate.