Jacob is unlike any ordinary youth, and it was his uniqueness that made it difficult to fit into the public school system. The resulting inner turmoil caused him to lash out and make some poor choices and soon after Jacob came to Marymound School from the Seven Oaks School Division.
After completing grades 7 and 8 at Marymound School, Jacob’s Mom Suzana told the Marymound School Principal that integrating her son into high school within the public system would not fare well and she wanted to explore another avenue for her son. Fortunately, Marymound had created a unique new school for students to graduate high school. The high school is called Pathways.
Pathways caters to students’ individual behavioural issues and learning styles with a flexible educational environment both inside and outside the classroom. “I prefer this school to public school or even Marymound School because you get more flexibility and more outings with more freedom,” says Jacob.
“When I first started here I chose a room to be by myself with my head down on a desk. I was used to being the outcast and hanging out alone,” says Jacob. But over time, with other students’ encouragement he didn’t feel so different and started to engage. Now, Jacob has progressed socially with other students and teachers. He tells jokes, listens tentatively, and with a little prompting will curb his tendency to be negative. Jacob is becoming adept at regularly getting himself back into a positive frame of mind without any guidance.
He loves school outings and Jacob is always one of the first to sign up. For Tuesday and Thursdays outings, he goes to the nearby YMCA that helps him attain a Phys Ed credit. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the outings may vary. Some are Phys Ed related while others are visits to art galleries and museums to achieve social studies credits. These outings are also a way for Jacob to gain knowledge of different information.
Not all outings are credit-based. Some of Jacob’s favourite outings include laser tag, and going to The Forks to walk around and have a cup of coffee with an instructor. “These outings are geared to Jacob learning what is appropriate public behaviour to better help him socialize successfully,” says Jean McLeod, Pathways Teacher/Program Coordinator.
Jacob also likes lunch time at the school as students have the chance to volunteer to choose what they want to make and then go shopping with an instructor for the ingredients. Pizzas, Kraft Dinner, and Sloppy Joe’s are his favourites when it is his turn to make lunch. “A student’s participation in the lunch program goes to a foods credit,” adds McLeod.
Academically, Jacob prefers math but really enjoys planning trips, including Egypt and Italy for a social studies credit. He considered all of the necessary factors that are a part of travel planning such as costs, sightseeing planning, where to stay, and the best times to go.
Jacob is officially in grade 10 but working on credits for a variety of grade levels with a goal of graduating high school by the time he is 21 based on Manitoba Curriculum. “Their home division grants diplomas, so when he meets all the requirements and attains his 30 credits, Seven Oaks School Division will issue a diploma for him,” says McLeod.
Because Jacob is one of the more successful students, he has a work placement at Sscope Inc., an agency that has a thrift shop that provides work experience for willing students at Pathways. “I mop floors, clean desks and organize stuff,” says Jacob. He is doing so well he is the only student that now goes twice a week to work.
After graduating, Jacob would like to work at a place like Canad Inns and do some property maintenance or custodial services to utilize the experience he picked up at Sscope. To help make this a reality, the next school year may have an outing that consists of visiting a property manager and ‘doing the rounds’ and talking with maintenance staff to gain even more valuable learning experience.
Jacob’s mother is very grateful to Pathways and supports it 100 per cent as she is witness to the amazing changes in her son which have transferred to his home life. “He is a much happier boy at home and I’m so pleased he is finding his own path,” says Suzana.
He has near perfect attendance, and for the first time, looks forward to being in school. “It used to be I hated getting up to go to school wondering what the kids were going to do to me today,” says Jacob. “Now I can’t wait to go and see what type of outing we are going to have and what I might learn!”