The New Horizon Learning Center/Middlesboro Central School (MCS) opened its doors in 2011 to students in the school district who needed a different environment or schedule in order to get back on track in their studies.
Principal Stephen Spangler graduated from Middlesboro High School (MHS) in 1977 and has been an educator for 28 years. He was the assistant principal for the middle school for over two years and was principal there for six years.
Spangler says they have different types of schedules to accommodate to student needs.
“We have some students that are required to come everyday and some that come half the day,” he said. “We have some students who have children or full-time jobs, so our schedules give them a better chance of graduating.”
“Right now we have a young lady who has a baby at home and she is able to go on the virtual schedule and come here in the mornings and she still has an opportunity to work on it at home while being a full time mother,” said Spangler.
MCS also has students who transition back to the high school after getting caught up to their original grade level.
Spangler added, “a lot of things are different at this school compared to the high school. It is the same rigorous school work ,but time is not an issue. For instance, if a student is absent for a day, they come back right where they left off. They didn’t miss any classes or instruction like they would at the high school.”
“This program is not for all students, but for most, this is a life saver for them” Spangler said.
According to the MCS website, students spend 70 to 80 percent of their time on computer based programs such as Plato and OdysseyWare learning curriculum in core classes such as math, English, social studies and science.
“This isn’t a ‘watered down’ curriculum by any means,” adds Spangler. “They do have to earn what they get here and it requires a lot of work. We just bring them here to get them away from a situation in order to succeed.”
“Last year, there were 51 total students enrolled at MCS. Ten students graduated this spring or summer. Eight other high school students moved up at least one grade level. Four middle school students moved up at least one grade level (two went on to the high school to finish the year). Fourteen high school students completed one to three credits,” according to the New Horizon website.
“In our first year, 44 total students made progress at MCS and all the high school students who took the end of the course exams passed them,” said Spangler.
“According to the data last year, this was an effective program and it helped a lot of students be successful,” he said.
“We do work on things here everyday such as lessons on goal setting and bullying. We also have guest speakers come in and talk to the students to motivate them to succeed in life,” added Spangler.
Spangler said he wants to remind everyone “this is not a disciplinary school, this is for students who are having trouble at the high school and they need a different situation or atmosphere to succeed. Sometimes they needed to catch up and sometimes they just need to work at their own pace.”
“Sometimes we do get court ordered students, but most of the time there is some reason that is keeping them from going to the high school and we want to work around that. Ninety-five percent of our students want to be here and they aren’t made to come. We have found this to be successful in developing responsibility for themselves,” said Spangler.
Chase Smith is a staff writer at the Middlesboro Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.