At UCC’s Crossroad Academy, students’ interests foster learning

Every Monday at Crossroad Academy, the accredited K-12 school on the campus of the United Church of Christ’s Crossroad Child & Family Services in Fort Wayne, Ind., the last hour of the day is devoted to Co-Curricular groups.

The school received its accreditation in 2016. The teachers wanted to offer extra-curricular activities to enhance Crossroad’s ability to help the students develop positive social and interpersonal skills. But since community-based students return home immediately after school, and residential students move on to therapy and other treatment activities, a new approach to a traditional after-school program was needed. Thanks to an innovative staff, the Co-Curricular groups idea was born.

“The Academy staff decided to dedicate time every Monday afternoon” to the groups, says Principal Maren Hupe.

Each semester, students have an opportunity to “choose a group, either to explore a new topic, or expand existing knowledge,” Hupe says. “Along the way, they learn teamwork, problem solving, and other life skills.”

The groups are taught by passionate teachers and staff. Classic movies, music appreciation, dramatic arts, mysteries, gaming, and health and wellness are just some of the groups offered.

“Co-Curricular offerings are based on a need to include more social skill development,” Hupe adds. “Offering these classes allows [the students] to build social skills such as collaboration and teamwork.”

One of the most popular groups was a recent offering for Red Cross CPR and First Aid training. Students over the age of 15 who completed the sessions and passed the end-of-group exam received certification from the Red Cross, “a credential that several of them included on their resumes as they searched for part-time jobs,” says Hupe.

Currently, Drama Club participants are “gaining confidence, overcoming stage fright, and becoming more polished speakers,” she adds, skills that will help them out in all future stages of their lives.

Crossroad Academy uses small class size to facilitate learning and relationship building. The goal of the school is to prepare students to be socially and academically ready for the next level of education or vocation by providing a program for students not succeeding in a traditional classroom setting.

CHHSM-member ministry Crossroad Child & Family Services provides therapy, education, and family support services for emotionally troubled children and their families.

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