There are a number of reasons why a student might have trouble succeeding in a traditional high school.
Helping students who are having a difficult time achieving their academic goals are James Bettcher and the rest of the staff at the Waconia Area Learning Center. About 50 students are currently enrolled in the program, which aims to assist students who haven’t been successful for whatever reason in their home districts.
Prior to this school year, the Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative managed the Area Learning Center. As of September, though, the Waconia School District has taken over management and runs its own center. The center accepts students in grades nine through 12 from around the state, but most of them come from the Waconia, Glencoe and Watertown-Mayer School Districts with some students also attending from the Norwood Young America and Chanhassen School Districts.
Bettcher, the Waconia Area Learning Center’s program coordinator, said that there are a lot of misconceptions about the students who attend Area Learning Centers, like that they are troublemakers or not smart enough to graduate high school.
“We have to fight that stigma,” he said.
Bettcher worked for 19 years at Waconia High School prior to starting this year as the part-time program coordinator for the Waconia Area Learning Center. He also still works part-time at the high school as a guidance counselor.
“There’s really no difference between the kids at the high school and the kids here [at the Waconia Area Learning Center],” Bettcher said.
There is a difference in the atmosphere of the two buildings. The Waconia Area Learning Center is much smaller and the staff sees the students every day.
“You get much more of a sense of
See ALC / Page 3