“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 and at-risk 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 VT 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
Learning 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
NatureWorks Field Experience: In 2019, we initiated a new field program in partnership with a local horse farm in Tinmouth, VT. The combined farm and forest provides a uniquely ideal environment for pursuing a combined education-employment-therapeutic focus for students working to overcome the effects of substantial adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Students in the NatureWorks field experience have the opportunity to work with horses and a variety of other livestock, as well as gardening for food production, getting exposure to many of the basics of hands-on farm management and developing solid work skills. Students will also be learning basic forest ecology and forestry skills. A growing body of research demonstrates the profound effectiveness of positive trusting relationships and nature based experience in addressing the impacts of ACEs: our skilled coach/mentors and the program’s forest venue are expressly adapted to the purpose.
In addition, we’re excited to be partnering with Mill River Union High School in the establishment of a preventive satellite outreach program engaging with middle school students. Our staff will focus on relationship—building and ACEs awareness and mitigation, working closely with school guidance staff: we will be reaching students early on to support them in staying in school, successfully.
Learning Together is certified by the Vermont Agency of Education. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9:30 to 3:30. If you or someone you love is interested in this program, please reach out to guidance staff at your loved one’s school – or feel free to contact us directly if that is more comfortable for you. You are welcome to arrange a visit!