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A $5,000 grant is helping support Jefferson City Academic Center's remedial math class within its new middle school transition program.

The middle school program started this year after Jefferson City Public Schools sought an additional layer of resources for students who need to work primarily on their social, emotional and behavior skills, JCAC Principal Deanne Fisher said. Currently, seven students attend the program all day — Monday through Friday — until they're ready to transition back to their home school.

The program includes remedial math 180 and English 180 classes because the students are either one or more grade levels below where they should be in those subjects. Otherwise, the students take the same classes as they would in their home schools but also spend time improving their behavior skills.

The English 180 program is being paid for out-of-pocket by the district, but the grant from AT&T Aspire will cover the program licenses needed for the online portion of the math class, Fisher said.

Math teacher Brett Skinner said the students spend about 20 minutes online at their own pace and about 20 minutes doing group instruction as he walks them through the daily lesson. The entire group starts off at the same level — several grade points below their intended grade — and works to get them closer to their grade level in math.

Students' schedules are flexible, he said, so each day is different. Some days students spend more time online, and other days they spend more time doing group instruction.

"You can tell they're very engaged in it," he said. "It's very interactive with games, and I think they like the online portion because they can go at their own speed and I'm not standing over their shoulder."

Fisher said the transitional middle school program is a long time coming. They decided to add it this year because of the behavior reforms the district is trying to make. Putting these students — some of whom have troubled backgrounds and major behavior issues — straight into the large middle schools sets them up for failure, she said.

Having the middle school program at JCAC is a good avenue for faculty to help students boost their academics and improve their behavior before transitioning back into the traditional setting, she said.

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