Students take alternative path

Students at Government’s Alternative Centre could one day be master chefs, professional photographers or computer experts.

The school is designed to take students with behavioural problems, teach them how to deal with conflict and prepare them for the working world.

Students are learning agriculture, information technology and are taking classes in digital photography.

Long term goals include establishing a parent-teachers association, a parent support group, a workshop for auto mechanics and carpentry, beauty culture, culinary arts and drivers education, said new Principal Raphael Daniel.

Even after Hurricane Ivan a lot of the students in the transitional unit, which takes students from school to work, took it on their own to look jobs.

‘For that, we give them credit,’ said Mr. Daniel.

He said the key to helping students is to get them into good behavioural habits.

‘This is where we seek the parents’ assistance to enforce these good habits in the early stages of development,’ he said.

‘We are running three units at the school: suspension, tutorial and transition,’ he said.

The suspension unit offers service to those with severe behavioural issues.

Modules deal with anger management, behavioural problems, fighting and interpersonal conflict.

A requirement recently instilled for completing a successful suspension is the writing of a reflective essay.

The essay details what happened, why it happened and, using new strategies, what could be done in the future to avoid conflict.

Students also go through a suspension program with the parents in which they are told about the modules. It is mandatory that parents attend the first session.

The tutorial unit is for students who have been identified as having severe behavioural problems that can’t be addressed in regular school.

They also get individual attention, psychological testing and counselling with planned opportunities to re-integrate them in main stream school.

Students are tutored and given an opportunity to pursue alternative certification, for example in GED, ACT and ASDAN, which allows them the opportunity to graduate.

They also make work attachments with leading Cayman Islands companies to get work experience and skills.

Mr. Daniels said there are 40 students at the school with five teachers. For the first time they have a secretary, Rosemarie Pusey, who he said frees him up to pursue other important matters

Mr. Daniel joined the school in September, taking over from John Alban. Before that he was alternative programs teacher at the Cayman Brac School.