Students With Alternative Goals is a first in Beaver County, according to Theresa Brewer, transition coordinator at Ambridge Area High School.
"The SWAG is a program for students who do not fit the brick and mortar of a high school," Brewer said. "We have them going to classes to get their academics. Then we place them in apprenticeship programs with community partners, and then they mentor them and help us grow them into future working employees or independent entrepreneurs."
Rick Mattia, coordinator for the high school mentoring program from Community Alternatives in Bridgewater, has been a part of the Ambridge School District's transition mentoring program for three years.
Community Alternatives typically does conventional mentoring. Providing group style mentoring, they assist with academic and graduation requirements, the emotional transition past high school and any other needs the students have while in school. They will continue to provide conventional mentoring for students who are not in SWAG program.
"In the SWAG program, we will do some things that are a little similar," Mattia said. "We do tutoring, mentoring, community programs, visits, and after-school activities -- all in the name of assisting with graduation and post secondary plans."
Mattia said that SWAG program is unlike any in the nine other schools they work with.
"This is nice because the SWAG program incorporates the community. Part of the students' day will be spent at potential jobs sites, and also their morning has been modified."
Student Emily Rose said that she hopes to get success out of the program. She wants to go to college and get into the nursing field so that she can become a nurse at a hospital.
Tierra Cook is looking forward to having something to do and making her own money. Over the summer she wanted a job and is excited to start working. She wants to open her own beauty salon someday.
When it comes to academics, Cook said that she learns differently from others.
"This program is helping me understand more because it is dealing with what I want to do," Cook said.
Patty Gorman was expelled in eighth grade and started night school. Now, she has the opportunity to come back.
"When I got to come to this program it was a way to help me change my life completely," she said.
She wants to be a social worker and hopes that the company she is paired with will help her communication skills.
Kennon Monroe one of two freshmen in the program shared that he did not want to come to school.
"This program got me thinking that I could go out, work, make money, and still maintain my school, that it could get me to closer to my future."
At Old Economy Village, Monroe will be working to help maintain old machines. Monroe said his dad is supportive of him in the program and encouraged him to stay in the program.
"By the time my students get through this program, I hope to say all are self employed," Brewer said. "They already have businesses or business plans created, or they definitely have skills to go into a trade school or even a college because now they are working for their passion more than the grade."
Debi Leopardi, general manager at Ambridge Regional Distribution and Manufacturing Center, held the first meeting introducing the program to community members.
Currently Una Bella Beauty and Wellness Studio, Laughlin Memorial Library, Baden Memorial Library, Old Economy Village, Baden Borough, and Ambridge Area Federal Credit Union are participating in the program.
How to get involved:
Ambridge Connection will host an informative meeting for anyone that would like more information on the program.
The meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 30 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Beaver County Emergency Center, 351 14th St. Ambridge, PA 15003.
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