Local charter school steers at-risk youth in right direction

Non-traditional school for at-risk students

SAN ANTONIO -- Ask James Ponce what kinds of kids typically walk through the halls of the high schools he oversees and he'll tell you:

"They have those life challenges. Where we talk about life getting in the way, that’s usually our student."

Ponce is the Chief of Schools and Operations for Texans Can Academy, a network of schools that provide an alternative option for students at risk of dropping out.

“For some reason they’ve come through a system that hasn’t been very kind to them whether it’s at home or in the educational student," Ponce said.

Senior Shaela Falks had a tough time at school back in Arizona. She said a combination of bullying and uncaring teachers nearly pushed her into dropping out.

“I was just like that shy person in the background not knowing, just getting picked on too which made school a lot harder for me to learn," Shaela said.

Her mom, Elizabeth Falks, tried enrolling Shaela in a traditional high school after moving to Texas, but found out Shaela didn't have enough credits to start her junior year. Things looked bleak until they found San Antonio Can High School, the Alamo City's Texans Can Academy school.

"She hit it right off the bat, principals teachers were great, greeted you as soon as you came in the door,” Elizabeth said.

If a student might not be able to make morning classes, San Antonio Can High School offers flexible scheduling. For students who happen to be parents, San Antonio Can provides Child Care. Ponce said Texans Can system is focused on both the academic and psycho-social needs of its students.

"So what we’re trying to do for students is to reorient, show them success and show them continual success,” Ponce said.

Once Shaela found that success, she went from a dropout risk to a candidate for early graduation. She wants to become a dentist and plans on studying at Lipscomb University in Tennessee.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been so amazing, like, it’s such a new start for me," Shaela said.

(© 2016 KENS)


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