News and Events

OFE News Release

Stillwater's Lincoln Alternative Academy to Receive Alternative Education Award

June 17, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has named the Lincoln Alternative Academy of STILLWATER as the recipient of its 2011 Oklahoma Award for Outstanding Achievement in Alternative Education. The $5,000 award will be presented among state alternative school peers July 19 at the Superintendent’s Alternative Education Summer Institute in Oklahoma City.

Founded in 1994, Lincoln Alternative Academy provides quality individualized instruction and support for students in ninth through 12th grade who are behind on their credits or at risk of dropping out of school. Nearly 150 students from Stillwater, Coyle and Mulhall-Orlando schools attend the academy, which supports students through quality academic instruction, life-skills training, counseling, character education, career development, and a strong community support system.

Lincoln Alternative Academy graduating senior Nadia Giauda (center) celebrates earning her high school diploma as counselor Patricia McClain (right) sings “Pomp and Circumstance.” Faculty and students line the halls throughout the year to celebrate a “graduation walk” each time an individual student meets graduation requirements. The Stillwater school has been named the recipient of the 2011 Oklahoma Award for Outstanding Achievement in Alternative Education by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

“Every morning , Lincoln Alternative Academy opens its doors to a diverse student population with various circumstances and needs,” said teacher Aaron Frisby. “Its goal is to recognize these differences and construct a plan for each student that will satisfy his or her educational requirements, as well as address any additional physical, emotional or environmental concerns.”

Working with faculty and support staff, each student at Lincoln develops a graduation plan that includes daily schedules and coursework needed to earn a high school diploma, as well as any additional services the student may need to be successful. Flexible self-paced instruction, including new evening, summer and web-based class options, help students complete their credits.

Under the leadership of Principal Caryl Talley, Lincoln has developed CARE teams of teachers, support staff and students who meet daily to help students assess progress and meet their goals. The CARE acronym stands for Curriculum, Attendance, Resources and Educational Success. The school has also developed a strong network of community partners, from civic clubs that provide mentoring and job shadowing to Friends of Lincoln, a community group that provides financial and volunteer support to meet students’ and teachers’ needs. In addition, Oklahoma State University partners with Lincoln to provide student tutors, holiday gifts and educational programs. The school also launched e-Angels, volunteers who are available via e-mail to meet students’ physical needs by donating resources, such as food, clothing or diapers for teen parents. The program has been so successful that it has expanded to serve all Stillwater school sites, with more than 100 volunteers.

Lincoln Alternative Academy also places a strong emphasis on service learning for its students. Students can earn elective credit by completing 70 hours or more of service learning at such community agencies as Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Head Start or Stillwater Group Homes. “One of the goals of Lincoln Academy is to encourage students to become responsible members of a democratic society,” said Kristy Ehlers, Stillwater’s assistant superintendent for Educational Services. “Through service learning, students are gaining insight into the value of making strong positive connections with community resources and organizations.”

Teachers at Lincoln have completed extensive training in character development education using such resources as FAT City to help students deal with Frustration, Anxiety and Tension; Ruby Payne workshops on understanding poverty; and Heart of a Champion, which uses videos and short stories to teach positive character traits.

“I am very successful in this alternative education program because I have acquired skills I did not have before,” said student Savannah Jackson. “My work ethic has improved tremendously and I am actually learning! I enjoy coming to school now and know that every minute I am here, I benefit in so many ways, not only scholastically, but on a personal level as well.”

Last year, Lincoln Alternative Academy met or exceeded all 17 state-established criteria for Alternative Education Programs, with notable achievements in community collaboration, individualized instruction, graduation plan, life skills instruction, self-evaluation, effective instruction, arts education and targeting services to its designated population. According to 2009-10 data, Lincoln students improved their grade point averages from an average 1.6 to 3.17 over the course of their enrollment. In addition, 52.3 percent earned proficient scores on End-of-Instruction tests, and 13 percent received advanced scores this year.

“While success is often determined through a series of numbers, it is my impression that at Lincoln Alternative Academy, success is seen through our students, not only by academic achievement, which is certainly there, but also through their characters, their choices and their actions,” Frisby said.

At the end of each school year, Frisby assigns his students to write an essay on how they have benefited from attending Lincoln. While each story has different twists and turns, Frisby said a common theme connects them all.

“Each student recognizes that at Lincoln, he or she is noticed, recognized, not looked over. They write of caring staff and a sense of community. They also acknowledge the encouragement they get and sense that while the teachers help them along the way, they themselves are empowered through the process.

Ann Caine, superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools, said Lincoln models a program that would be beneficial for all students by creating an education plan in which students are able to move at their own pace and take control of their learning.

“It is very overwhelming to see how the students change while they are at Lincoln,” she said. “They enter the school for a variety of reasons, but the majority of the students leave as successful, confident, young men and women. The success of the students is due to the hard work and vision of Caryl Talley and her passionate staff.

“I always leave Lincoln feeling good,” Caine added. “Meeting the needs of our students is why we have a job!”