Oct 1, 2019
Special Guest Anna Harryman sits down with Vickie and Amanda to
discuss alternative education. Listen in to this fascinating
glimpse inside a credit recovery high school. You’ll learn the
definition of alternative education, the kinds of students they
serve, the goals they have, and how love can make all the
This is Anna’s 10th year working in alternative public
education. Her career in the education field began with a position
as an AmeriCorps volunteer, being a business to community liaison.
She caught the attention of another school district, who hired her
on permanently to do a similar role in their school. While there,
she worked her way up and became a teacher in the English Language
Arts, Social Studies, and eventually added Family and Consumer
Sciences, which most people know as Home Ec. Anna later became a
school counselor, which is her current role. She has spent time as
a department head and on the School Leadership Committee. Anna also
works as a teacher on special assignment for the school district,
coordinating all professional development for school counselors in
- "Alternative education” is an umbrella term used to describe
any education outside of the traditional, comprehensive school
setting. For example: trade schools, expulsion behavior programs,
school credit recovery, special skills or college prep
- Anna works at a credit recovery high school. As she explains,
students fall behind on credits for a variety of
- Education is not a “one size fits all” for students.
- Anna’s school serves around 120 students at a time.
- They strive to provide that small learning environment for
students who are overwhelmed or unsuccessful in a large school
setting. They may have fallen through the cracks, not getting the
attention they were needing to be successful in their classes, or
have a lot of anxiety.
- Since there’s a lot of flexibility in the school programs, a
lot of teen parents come to the school. Also, kids with medical
issues or those who have moved around a lot and have gaps in their
education are given opportunities to make up their credits, so they
can graduate on time or meet their educational goals.
- Other purposes that the school serves is providing the GED
program for the district and serving the expelled students in the
- There is a separate program for the expelled students to start
in, and if they choose to stay in the school, they can earn their
way into the main high school program, which is considered a
- One of the goals for the school is to take students who might
otherwise drop out of school during their junior or senior years in
high school, and get them to graduation.
- Anna discusses the importance of thinking about students with
love and building relationships with them, and the various reasons
why they might be expelled from school.
- As Anna relates, her community is very fortunate to have a
district that sees the value of what they’re doing, and she feels
that the stigma is getting smaller and smaller every year.
- A student first has to fail repeatedly in order to be able to
go to an alternative school and have a second chance at learning.
It is a shame that these students have to suffer first in order to
get to a place of success.
- Anna’s school is typically 15-20% on IEP’s and around 10% on
504’s. Most 504’s are the social and emotional 504’s, a lot
diagnosed with mental health issues such as bipolar, anxiety, and
depression. They are not able to offer all the resources for IEP’s
that a larger school can, so they have to limit their IEP’s to
students who require a minimum of services, and are at risk of
falling through the cracks in the traditional educational
- Students have the opportunity to learn more about trades
programs, computer programming, manufacturing, and other industries
for after graduation or GED.
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