Education center principal hopes for new growth

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 8, 2021

 From left, Tammy Pearson, Dawn Sanchez, Stacy Turner and Jennifer Pary staff the Clintondale Continuing Education Center. Sanchez said it’s rewarding to work with any student, but it is especially rewarding to work with those who have tried everything and haven’t been as successful as they could be.

From left, Tammy Pearson, Dawn Sanchez, Stacy Turner and Jennifer Pary staff the Clintondale Continuing Education Center. Sanchez said it’s rewarding to work with any student, but it is especially rewarding to work with those who have tried everything and haven’t been as successful as they could be.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

Advertisement

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The center is described as a safe haven for students, a place to come and further one’s education.

Dawn Sanchez is the new principal of the Clintondale Continuing Education Center in Clinton Township. She formerly was the assistant principal at Clintondale High School.

The center is located at 22280 Price Drive, south of 16 Mile Road, east of Gratiot Avenue.

One of Sanchez’s goals for the center, part of Clintondale Community Schools, is to add enrichment programs, which haven’t been part of the building’s mission in a while.

Sanchez would like to see programs like English as a Second Language added, opportunities for more trips and tours for the adults in the area, as well as an increase in community education.

Curriculum provided for the alternative education program has been aligned with state academic standards. The Michigan Merit Curriculum is the framework used for designing instructional activities, lessons, assessments and additional knowledge.

Courses at the center include English language arts, business, health, career exploration, career and technical educational pathways, and more.

Currently, Sanchez said the program is virtual for alternative education students. Around 150 students are enrolled at the center for the 2021-22 school year, which began Sept. 7.

The plan this year is, three days a week, students will come in the center for about an hour or two for additional assistance.

“They are working on a self-program where, as soon as they progress, they complete each piece of the program,” Sanchez said.

The center utilizes Edmentum, a provider of online learning programs, which follows Michigan curriculum standards.

Sanchez said it’s always rewarding working with any students, but especially with those who have tried everything and haven’t been as successful as they could be.

“To know that now, someone backs them and is trying to work with them so they can be successful, that’s the reward of working with alternative education,” she said.  

She explained that those students, for whatever reason, had a difficult time in the K-12 school system.

The students complete their high school diploma through the alternative education program at the center.

“We offer more support,” she said. “Our administrative assistants work with the kids, the teachers — we have a social worker, school psychologist and are getting a school counselor. They all lend support to these students who need more assistance and care, getting through to their diploma.”

The center has three administrative assistants – Tammy Pearson, Stacy Turner and Jennifer Pary.

Pearson, who is in her 16th year at the center, said the students at the center are very special to the staff.

“A lot of the students struggle at home, so often, we’re known as their second mom,” she said. “You’re feeding them, bringing clothes in for them, helping them complete paperwork.”

Pearson said when the students graduate, it’s very emotional and she still keeps in contact with former students who have become very successful.

“They say, ‘You guys cared for me as a person and believed in me,’” she said. “A lot of kids that come here are not believed in anymore at all. They’ve already been thrown to the side, and this is their last place to get their diploma.”  

Turner said, for many students, the center is a safe haven and they look forward to being there.

“They are comfortable here, and our goal is to have that relationship with all of them,” she said.

Sanchez said not every school system in Macomb County has alternative education, so Clintondale would like to reach out to schools, public or parochial, that may need support for credit recovery for high school students or to assist students who need alternative education. 

Advertisement