Leland Plus department offers support for graduation

For Chargers who are behind on their course credits within a regular curriculum, the school offers a continuation class to assist students in graduating. The program was established to support students who face difficulties keeping up with the regular school curriculum and staying on track for timely graduation.

Under the leadership of Cecilia Molina, the 39 students enrolled in Leland Plus are offered smaller class sizes, two certified teachers and a counselor to consult about graduation affairs and college readiness. The program serves students from freshmen to seniors, requiring a total of six classes spread throughout the workday. Students are encouraged to ask for individual help and refer to counselors for guidance outside of set class times as well. Currently, 10th Grade Academic Counselor Lisa Castillo serves as the academic counselor for Leland Plus.

In addition to more one-on-one attention for students, the smaller class sizes of Leland Plus focus on creating a friendlier atmosphere to create a more positive attitude towards learning.

The intervention program was started under current Director of Curriculum, Instruction and English Learner Services/Alternative Education (6-12) and former principal, Deepa Mukherjee; the curriculum is planned by the classes’ two teachers, Erin Cahill, English Department, and Tracy Hall, Math Department.

“The class uses DreamBox and Achieve3000 to help support student improvement in math and English, respectively. Achieve is an English program that familiarizes students to nonfiction with articles that are adjusted to their reading levels. We hold debates in class about the topics and focus on vocabulary that students are exposed to in the articles. By the end of the year, most students’ reading levels progress from one to one and a half grade levels,” said Cahill.

Students who are struggling in their math or English classes prior to freshman or sophomore year are also invited into an opt-in intervention class, a class that counts as an elective course. Sophomores who have failed both freshman English and math, or have failed one and have a D in the other, are selected by administrators. For incoming freshman, an invitation to the class is based on eighth grade performance. Students who are invited to the class then speak with counselors; ultimately, parents must approve their taking the class. Students then are given the tools to focus on English and math, in addition to lifelong educational skills taught by College Advisor Emily Strain.

Unlike the intervention program, Leland Plus does not run concurrent with the school. Instead, it has its own system, but aims for similarly high expectations.

“The Leland Plus program changed this year by going on the same standards as Leland students. The students now have identical criteria for graduation and general education as every other Charger, as opposed to previous years when expectations were lower,” Hall said.

Leland Plus has already seen successes with its students; with an average graduation rate of 85 percent, it has seen a steady increase in the amount of enrollments in Leland Plus due to the improving performance of the school and widespread recognition.