Tuba City Alternative High surpasses expectations

Enrichment, self paced academics, discipline go hand in hand with long-term character building

Tuba City Alternative High School offers the only on-reservation state sanctioned program with an accredited diploma for its graduating seniors. Pictured from left to right are: Edward Tuchawena/Director TCAHS, Wilhelmina Hogner-Begay/teacher, Belinda Badonie/administrative assistant, Evelena Sombrero-Remore/paraprofessional, Bob Tsinnie/academic and career counselor. Not pictured isCheryl Onsae/resource teacher (Photo by Byron Poocha/TCUSD).

Tuba City Alternative High School offers the only on-reservation state sanctioned program with an accredited diploma for its graduating seniors. Pictured from left to right are: Edward Tuchawena/Director TCAHS, Wilhelmina Hogner-Begay/teacher, Belinda Badonie/administrative assistant, Evelena Sombrero-Remore/paraprofessional, Bob Tsinnie/academic and career counselor. Not pictured isCheryl Onsae/resource teacher (Photo by Byron Poocha/TCUSD).

TUBA CITY-The formal definition of a state sanctioned "alternative school" is one that must consist of a school that is operated by a current larger school district containing firstly, a "mission statement to serve a specific student population that can benefit from an "alternative education setting."

Secondly, the alternative school's mission must also match up or complement the overall, larger school district mission/charter.

Thirdly, the school must serve the specific student population in one or more of the following categories:

• Students with behavioral issues (documented history of disruptive behavior),

• Students identified as dropouts,

• Students in poor academic standing who are either severely behind on academic credits needed to graduate or have demonstrated a pattern of failing grades,

• Pregnant and/parenting students,

• Adjudicated youth.

Any school offering secondary instruction for academic credit used to fulfill Arizona State Board of Education graduation requirements in part or in full, must offer the eligible student a diploma of high school graduation.

In the state of Arizona, there are currently 138 state certified alternative high schools with Tuba City District offering this additional school setting to service reservation area students who fit into these specific categories.

Tuba City Alternative High is the only locally operated on Hopi or Navajo Reservations program that offers a state sanctioned, fully accredited diploma as of January 2007.

This past May of 2007, TC Alt High graduated its first class of 22 students.

Of these 22, twenty have gone on to be gainfully employed or attending community colleges with the solid education foundation gained from TC Alt High.

Edward Tuchawena, Director of TC Alt High, "We're not a catch-up school, we are focused on high school credit recovery. Our primary interest is in juniors and seniors that are only a few credit hours away from state sanctioned graduation."

Tuchawena is responsible along with his exemplary staff to build their program around state mandated core courses, such as reading, writing, math, government and social studies.

But along with these subject areas, TC Alt High students must also pass regular state test requirements like AIMS to get to their final graduation goal.

Tuchawena, "the fact is that most of our Alt School students have already met 2 of the 3 state standards like reading and writing for passing AIMS, math is usually the one area where they need additional work. So we give extra attention to getting our students to proficiency levels in the math area."

Currently TC Alt High has 10 students in each of the grade levels of high school, for a total of 40 students in its current student population, but there is room for 55 students.

This small number allows for greater interpersonal relationships between the TC Alt School staff and its students, which immediately boost academic success, helping to minimize past bad habits and steering students into more successful career related discipline.

Tuchawena, "while the credit recovery aspect for many of these students is the most important reason they have enrolled here, we also want to be able to focus on their interpersonal and social intelligence skills. These students must be nurtured, particularly those students who might not be able to get this type of adult guidance or support in their home environment.

Each student has an individual education plan here, some students need not just the credits, but they also need real work skills that can come from a job corp focus.

We focus on the individual student spirit, so there is no blame.

What I would like to see eventually is an even more comprehensive alternative school plan for each student so that there is real personal service for every graduating senior at TC Alt High.

This is possible, since we are a small, very personal school and there are enough highly qualified staff members to make this happen."

TC Alternative High School students are expected to take the alternative school mission and vision seriously in that education, determination, discipline and dignity will be offered to them through this highly successful program.

TC Alt High staff members want to build their student's career success by stressing oral and written communication skills, along with time management, critical thinking, creative problem solving, the ability to work effectively with others but also importantly, personal accountability.

For more information about Tuba City Alternative High School, call Director Tuchawena and his staff at 928-283-1070 or the Tuba City District Office of Public Relations at 928-283-1185.

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