Learning Together

Rutland County alternative high school

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Some young women and men require a uniquely supportive environment to find their academic feet: an environment with an extra dose of patience, rapport and trust. This may be especially true if a pregnancy and subsequent newborn child are brought into the mix.

Our Learning Together program serves pregnant, parenting, at-risk and ‘seeking’ youth from minors through age 26 working toward their high school diplomas. Programming is full-time, in-house or shared with Community College of Vermont (CCV).

In addition to the state-required high school curriculum, this center-based program includes life skills, parenting, job readiness and emotional wellness. Students also participate in higher education planning, literacy programs, and parent/child interaction training. Central components include:

Parenting (for pregnant/parenting students) – Parent education is woven throughout the program. Students learn about child development and parenting strategies through academics, work sites, community workshops, parenting/playgroup classes and one-to-one staff support.

Education – Teachers and students work together with their local high school to develop personalized learning plans. Each plan is based on classes and credits required for graduation. Every effort is made to create plans which focus on individual strengths and interests.

Employability – Students benefit from worksite experience connected to Vermont learning standards, including structured mentoring opportunities, such as preparation for childhood development and other certificate programs, with transitioning to off-site employment. We offer a ‘stipended part-time work’ initiative, through which students can earn up to $200 per month while maintaining their academics.

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ~ Albert Einstein

blankLearning Together provides an inclusive safe space, in which students have a central voice in setting goals and developing programming. Group work, proactive and individualized crisis intervention planning, and meaningful incentives for progress are all developed in collaboration with participants.

Parents are able to have their children with them in the classroom until they reach the age of 6 months. After that, children qualify for our onsite 4-STAR early childhood education center. Reliable transportation is provided or coordinated.

Learning Together is much more than just a high school: it is an educational environment nested in a community of wrap-around supports. Our students can access all our other RCPCC programs and services when needed, including Children’s Integrated Services/Family Support, Literacy Playgroups and Early Childhood Education Programs – as well as coordinated health care services. Behavioral health counseling is coordinated and “normalized” for incorporation into everyday life. Learning Together students engage with our food security programs – learning about nutrition, preparation of healthy meals and learning to garden and grow food. We believe that sound nutrition is vital to developing brains and to academic performance. Our students are surrounded by staff who are there to help and support them in any way they can – and the students can access staff as needed on any given day – including our director, who has an open door policy for students.

“There is more than one path to the top of the mountain” ~ Miyamoto Musashi

The NatureWorks Program

A vital element to the Learning Together classroom is a 125-acre farm owned by Ms. Tami Carboni who manages a horse boarding/rehab business as well as raising dairy cows. The farm is located in Tinmouth, VT, and Ms. Carboni has generously offered it to our students since 2019 so we can maintain our own Sunflower Garden each spring. There is a river flowing at the base of a mountain on the farm where the Learning Together school also runs part of its NatureWorks program teaching students basic shelter building and survival skills. Beyond these essentials, staff engages single moms/parents in story-telling, one on one supportive talks, and group activities such as overnight campouts where students are encouraged to ‘open up’ about their lives.

All students are able to earn their monthly stipend of $200 at the farm by helping create the Sunflower Garden, mucking horse stalls, handling the cows under Tami’s supervision, and by partaking in events at the river. All students are also able to work directly with Tami for wages if they choose to do so. We in the Learning Together school always encourage employability. The NatureWorks initiative is a safe place to earn income and learn independent/accountability life skills alongside our compassionate staff.

Program Photos

Kids with program lead
Kids with therapy horses
Kids making a shelter

Program Testimonials

From the beginning I’ve been able to work at my own pace. I’ve never been somewhere that I felt I belonged until I came here. I’m not just getting my diploma, I’m gaining friends, opportunities and options.

– Past graduate

They appreciate everyone who walks in the door. The staff are always there for you when you need them, in good times or bad.

– Past graduate

I’ve been here at the PCC for a couple months now and I love it. The teachers and staff are awesome, they always come in with a smile. They make you feel loved and welcomed. When I first came here I was reckless, now today I look back in surprise on how much the RCPCC has changed me. I love playing with the babies and my classmates are very nice and helpful. The teachers teach you things about babies and how to take care of your child. They give you suggestions. When you do work her(e)sic they don’t push or rush you. They let you move at your own pace. They are honest and respectful to every student. The RCPCC is the best school ever.

– LG, a Learning Together program participant

For more information on our Learning Together program, contact:

Anna Austin
Phone: 802-779-5686
Email: anna.austin@rcpcc.org