Prescott Lakes Parkway School helping youth in need

Prescott, AZ | Submitted by Marvy McNeese

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Prescott Lakes Parkway School (PLPS) isn’t like other schools in the historic mountain town. That’s because PLPS is the educational facility for the local juvenile detention center. Serving children as young as third grade and as old as 19, the school faces a unique set of challenges.

Youth at PLPS are more likely to have special needs (about one in four). And they’re usually working far below their grade level. But the fully accredited school works hard to get everyone back on track. Those who are old enough work toward a high school diploma or GED. Once those are completed, if the students are still in the center, the team at PLPS connects with Yavapai College to continue their education.

juvenile detention center schoolEvery student who arrives at PLPS is assessed to measure their skills. They’re also interviewed on their goals and challenges, so that educators can tailor instruction. For many students, PLPS is the first place they’ve been able to study without the distractions of the outside world. They get ample one-on-one time with their teachers, which aids in success. And once they’ve experienced growth, they’re able to build confidence and level up even further.

Much of the program is digital, which allows students to proceed at their own pace. But having access to two certified educators means they also get direct instruction. For those who are old enough, completing the FAFSA is also a priority. This path to financial aid is a big driver in getting kids to continue their education.

Of course, the teachers at PLPS aren’t working in a vacuum. They work closely with their student’s probation team and judge, as well as the center’s director and counselor. The team approach creates more paths to wellness, as all aspects of a student’s needs are met. It’s a student-centric approach aimed at aimed at making their dreams a reality.

The school has been so successful that they’ve been honored with a number of awards, including one from Arizona Correctional Educators. With help from volunteer tutors and community members who can serve as inspirational speakers, they’re helping to alleviate the number of opportunity youth in the area. The goal outlined in the Arizona Education Progress Meter is to decrease the number of these youth (who are neither working nor in school) from 13 to 7 percent by 2030. Last year alone, they worked with more than 200 students. Over the years, they’ve had nearly 100 earn GEDs and even one who graduated from high school. Beyond academics, PLPS helped to develop life skills and ease the transition out of their facility.

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