Life Skills Center puts students on trackWritten by Scott McKimmy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Like many 18-year-olds, Melyssa Wills looks forward to an opportunity to go to college and pursue a career. But until a year and a half ago, the odds were not in her favor.
She was expelled from the Toledo Technology Academy (TTA) and found herself without a high school diploma. Shortly thereafter, however, she discovered Life Skills Center and graduated in less than a year. That was in January; on June 4, 15 students received diplomas during the spring graduation.
“My mom found Life Skills, and then I went there and graduated from there, and I’m just happy to be out of school,” she said.
While working at the Sundance Kid Drive-in in Oregon, Wills is making plans to take the ACT and apply to The Ohio State University campus in Lima next summer or fall to study zoology. She credits Life Skills for showing her the importance of an education and the doors a degree can open.
“I just wanted to get out of school. I wanted to work my butt off so I could get out and do other things,” she added. “The teachers really made sure that you got your work done, that you should work instead of play because it will be better for your future.”
With a student body of about 260, according to Jon Marie Morris, Life Skills administrator, the charter school adjusts its curriculum to meet every pupil’s needs. Tuition is free.
Some may lack only math or English credits to receive their diplomas; others may have to fulfill all credits to graduate.
One student turned his life around, Morris explained, and now serves in the U.S. Navy, two years after attending Life Skills.
“He came in and he was bound and determined to graduate,” Morris said. “He said he messed up; he was in school to just socialize and he decided to make a change and he earned his high school diploma in about a year and a half.
“They have an individualized plan based upon where they are when they come. I think that’s a little different in that it helps the students graduate because we’re dealing with their individual needs.”
Many grads follow a path to college or military service, in part because of the school’s program encouraging higher education. Morris said her former students have attended Owens, UT and other area institutions. At Life Skills, course lessons include balancing a checkbook, purchasing a vehicle and preparing for a job interview with help from an on-site vocational specialist, as well as a family advocate to deal with personal issues at home.
“We have started what we call a college tour because we want the students to see that there is education far beyond high school,” she said. “A lot of our students have never been on a college campus; they didn’t think that they were going to finish high school, let alone go onto college or a technical school. So we’re trying to equip them with knowledge about education beyond high school.”
For more information, call (419) 241-5504 or visit the Web site www.lifeskillscenters.com.