This is how it all started:
Mr. Barry Tyler and Ms. Barbara Higgins began working together in 2009 when they were both assistant principals at a large comprehensive high school serving over 3000 students. With over 40 years of combined experience in education, both demonstrated a commitment and passion for reaching at-risk students -- specifically those 5% of kids who simply struggled to be successful on large comprehensive campuses and were in need of intensive support.
As they worked together, they continually discovered students were being sent outside of the district to receive educational services from other entities or agencies. After expelling a student who "technically" deserved to be sent to county court school but who realistically could have benefitted much more from intervention and an alternative learning environment and platform, the two became determined to create viable, alternative options for students and families.
Research leads to a new discovery:
From that point forward, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Higgins began researching and examining current practices within the district, San Diego County and across the State of California. They found a myriad of scenarios and situations where students were sent outside their districts to receive educational services:
- Socially phobic students were assigned to home hospital to work one on one with a teacher at their home
- Students with discipline concerns were administratively transferred to an alternate campus
- Students with behavior concerns and IEP's were sent to non-public schools
- Students who simply desired an online educational format were referred to schools outside the district
- Students with attendance concerns were referred to the School Attendance Review Board
Determined to change the current reality, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Higgins set out to create, implement and market what would become the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) Model, with the motto, "Serving Our Kids First." Ultimately, the reality became just that -- students within the district stayed within the district and excelled there! The ALC Model includes four main components: an academically rigorous online platform, social/emotional support via individual and group counseling, college and career readiness support and an ATS - Alternative to Suspension Program. The combination of ingredients embedded within the model has had a tremendous impact on students and families.
Success fuels success:
Because of the students’ significant successes while attending the ALC, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Higgins felt compelled to share their results and realizations with other educators and districts across the country at educational conferences and symposiums.
In the last year alone, they have been selected to present on the Alternative Learning Center Model at:
- California School Boards Association (CSBA) Annual Education Conference 2015 – San Diego, CA
- SDCOE Annual Summit on Student Engagement and Attendance 2015 -- San Diego, CA
- Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Leadership Summit 2014 -- San Diego, CA
- California Consortium for Independent Study (CCIS) -- Anaheim, CA
- California League of Schools -- South Lake Tahoe
- California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) -- Los Angeles, CA
- Hawaii International Conference of Education (HICE) – Honolulu, Hawaii
- Teaching and Learning Education (TLEC) Conference -- Houston, TX
- APEX Blended Learning Conference – Sonoma, CA
- E Learning Strategies Symposium – San Mateo, CA
- APEX Blended Learning Conference – Pomona, CA
Additionally, the Educational Model has been featured in several newspapers and publications including:
- Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Leadership Magazine – November, 2015
- University of Southern California (USC) Welcoming Practices Newsletter – May, 2015
- Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Leadership Magazine – March, 2015
- EdSource – March, 2015
- APEX Marketing News – August, 2014
- Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) EdCal News – March, 2014
- Coast News – February, 2014
- Oceanside Courier Newspaper – February, 2014
- Union Tribune Newspaper – February, 2013
In an effort to build their professional and educational knowledge base through collegial collaboration with other district level administrators, they successfully completed both the ACSA Special Education Academy and the ACSA Pupil Services Academy. Additionally, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Higgins are Certified Trainers for the International Institute for Restorative Practices.
Time to "spread the word":
After the successful implementation of the Alternative Learning Center Model in their current district, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Higgins launched the Blue Water Educational Consulting Company with a commitment to helping educators reach ALL students with appropriate educational options and social/emotional support. The Blue Water Team works with schools and districts throughout the state to analyze their programs and results in working with both at risk and online learners. They visit campuses, identify concerns, offer implementation strategies and suggest possible ways in which the Alternative Learning Center Model could positively impact student achievement by tailoring the model to each district and school site's specific needs.