Jamestown High School Helps Students With Personalized Learning Program

Jamestown High School students, Branden Ryan and Hailey Axford work on drawings during art class at the Infinity Visual & Performing Arts Center.

“What does it mean to be independent?” asked Taylor Winter from the YWCA’s CAPP Program to students in JHS’ Personalized Learning Program (PLP).

“Doing things by yourself. You have your own responsibilities,” said students.

“What might those responsibilities be? They could be buying clothing and groceries, finding transportation and looking for a place to live. We are going to talk today about getting a job and having a paycheck and, most importantly, what you do with that paycheck once you cash it at the bank.”

Students received “paychecks” and fake money that equaled one month of pay so that they could simulate responsibilities of an adult that earns minimum wage. Students filled out an application, cashed a paycheck for play money, looked for housing, found transportation, bought insurance and purchased groceries. The lesson is designed to help students learn about budgets and get a real-life perspective on the value of a dollar. JHS Assistant Principal, Tom Langworthy, who supervises the Personalized Learning Program at Jamestown High School’s Technology Academy, invited CAPP to work with PLP students. CAPP offers free “Taste of Independence” lessons to local middle and high school students.

“Last year, we looked at different ways to engage our students and open their eyes to the value of a high school education,” said Mr. Langworthy. “We want them to see that a high school diploma gives them multiple opportunities, whether it’s to go onto college, join the military or attend a trade school. Having the YWCA come in and talk to students about the reality of living on minimum wage opens their eyes to the financial burdens that students may experience if they do not earn a high school diploma.”

The Jamestown High School Personalized Learning Program is an alternative school housed at the Raymond J. Fashano Technology Academy for freshmen and sophomores where they receive academic interventions to assist in their transition to Jamestown High School including, those students who might have anxiety about the large building and fast-paced curriculum and need extra help to transition to JHS from the middle schools. Last year, 40 JHS students were part of the Personalized Learning Program.

“The goal of PLP is to help transition students into JHS by providing them with specific supports, such as: a modified schedule, shorter class periods, smaller class size and a smaller student to teacher ratio,” said Mr. Langworthy. “It is our hope that these interventions will provide students with a successful situation, engage students in their education, and prevent them from dropping out of school.”

The community engagement piece is an important component to the program. Mr. Langworthy and his staff have worked hard to develop community partnerships including: Chautauqua County Mental Health, Chautauqua Striders, Infinity Visual & Performing Arts, CASAC, Cummins Engine, Jamestown Business College, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, First Covenant Church, Jamestown Police Department, The Chautauqua Center, Impact and many individual community members.

Some recent partnerships include: Spoken Word Performing Poetry, Introduction to Drawing and Creative Courage Through Collage courses at the Infinity Visual & Performing Arts Center. The classes, which began last year, are providing a different way to reach students through art, once a week for six weeks. PLP also partnered with the Dave Warren Auto Group as many of the participants were interested in the automotive industry. Mr. Warren visited the program and talked to them about the opportunities that were available including sales and service. He also talked about some of his employees’ success stories – all because they earned their high school diplomas. Students visited the auto dealer and met with Service Manager Andy Nelson, who gave them a tour and talked about his path to success.

“The big picture with the Personalized Learning Program is to figure out ways to engage these students in education,” said Mr. Langworthy. “We try to stress the value of education in many different ways. We make sure students understand that our expectation is they will get their high school diploma. We are trying to get our students to understand that if you are interested in a career, you are going to need a high school diploma to get there. But, we are also here to help these students succeed whether it is academically, socially and emotionally. We care that they are successful in life.”

PLP had some great successes in the 2016-17 school year including: implementing a school safety plan, beginning a Career Exploration Class where students can receive business credits, addition of a full-time physical education class held at the YMCA, collaborations with Christopher Morse, BOCES Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies Consultant, and JPS Behavioral Specialist, Maureen Diehl, and the addition of Arrick Davis as School-Community Coordinator.