PHS Program Receives State Recognition

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Jon Wellman (center, front) shows-off the award with some of the members of one of his classes at PHS. Those on hand included, from left: Front-Dalton West, Wellman and Baylor Burkman. Back-Danielle Huffstutler, Devyn Gremard, Gaige Martin, Ethan Murray, Clay Tanner and Greg West.

Since the days of the one-room schoolhouse, students have been lumped together in one learning environment in classrooms across our country, affording little flexibility for both the individual and the curriculum. But, in more recent years educators have come to better understand the way students learn, and in turn have developed programs which address those differences. Some of those efforts are generally referred to as alternative educational programs, and the one developed at Piggott High School was recently recognized for great success.

In fact the program, under instructor Jon Wellman, has been so successful it earned the Carolyn Pollan Alternative Education Academic Progress Award. The presentation was made to Wellman this past summer by the Arkansas Department of Education.

"The award was given to our alternative learning program here at Piggott High School," Wellman said of the recognition. "We work with students who may need just a little bit of extra help in order to qualify for their graduation requirements."

The award was presented to the program at PHS by the ADE in recognition of five straight years of improvement in both literacy and math scores among the local participants.

Wellman noted the local program currently serves 24 students, and has assisted well over 100 over the course of the past five years. "We generally help them with math, science and English," Wellman added. "And these kids have really exceeded our expectations over the past five years."

Wellman, a local native and PHS grad himself, is currently working on his Doctorate in Leadership and Management and will be graduating in December. He also serves as the director of the Piggott High School alternative education program, and serves on the executive board of the Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators.

"Our organization has a presence in schools all over the state," he explained. "And, by the way it is Arkansas state law that all schools have an ALE program to help students such as these."

Wellman noted this is the ninth year he has been involved in the program at Piggott High School, but noted over the course of those years there have been many changes. "When I first started with the ALE program there was not much structure to it," he explained. "But, in the years since the legislature, and the lawmakers, have come in and worked on it and have made ALE what it is today."

Within the Arkansas Department of Education the program is under the guidance of the Alternative Education Unit of Learning Services. Those wanting additional information on the Arkansas Department of Education may visit their website www.arkansased.org Those wanting more details on the Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators may visit their website at www.arkaltedu.org/aaae/

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