Updated on December 8, 2020
The Characteristics of an Effective At-Risk School
Your teen is at risk. You want the best for them. You decide to enroll your troubled teen in a school which deals with at-risk youth – but which school? This article sets out to describe the best schools, the ones which are most likely to give your at-risk teen the greatest chance of turning their life around.
So what should you as a parent be looking for? What are the characteristics of an effective school dealing with at-risk teens?
The principal. This person is the guiding light of the school. This person is able to explain exactly the educational aims of the school. This person will be a hands-on principal who is involved in the day to day work of the school. The principal will be enthusiastic about the programs, the staff and the potential of the students. You will be impressed by the principal and feel drawn to him or her. You will want your teen to be a part of this school simply because of the quality of leadership of the principal.
The school environment. An effective school will be a busy place but will have a climate of calm. Peace within the buildings will be felt and seen by all who work there and those who visit. The atmosphere will be one of friendly discipline where the aim is to repair the health of those who need it and to guide them towards success and personal happiness.
The staff will be highly skilled and experienced. The school will have clear objectives and the teaching programs will be laden with activities which are directly related to these stated aims. It will be easy to see both the aims and the activities and thus the progress of the students in relation to these aims and activities.
Over recent decades there has been many research projects into teaching programs and their effectiveness. The result of these surveys has pointed to a number of things which are believed to be highly desirable in making a school effective.
Two major components are (a) curriculum and (b) adaptability. Every effective school which deals with at-risk youth will have an outstanding curriculum created from sound educational practices and the express needs of the students. Pie in the sky idealism has no place in a down to earth practical program which specifically addresses the needs of at risk youth.
Change is everywhere today and never more so in the needs of young people. An effective school will be able to adapt their teaching materials and activities to suit the ever-changing needs of young people.
As a parent of an at-risk youth, you need to choose your child’s school with care. Look for the signs which make it an effective school. Consider the principal and his or her staff. Consider the teaching program and the atmosphere within the school. Look at the commitment of the people involved and give your at-risk teen the chance to make their education a life-changing experience.
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