Amanda Wyble

University of Texas Charter School goes beyond the basics to motivate and support PaRC’s adolescents

University of Texas-University Charter School (UT-UCS) provides on-site education for teenage patients at the Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) through advanced technology, hands-on classroom activities, and experienced, compassionate teachers who go beyond the basics to motivate and support the students with their school work and in their recovery.

Having UT-UCS onsite at PaRC enables adolescents to continue the responsibility of completing their education during treatment and exposes them to a new way of learning—sober, and with the support of others who are going through the same process.

Creatively Constructing Interpersonal Skills

Teachers at PaRC integrate hands-on projects to encourage peer-to-peer interaction. Recently, engineers from KBR, a leading global engineering, construction, and services company, visited the students and spoke about the different engineering disciplines.

The students participated in a design game where they worked in groups to build a structure from spaghetti, mailing labels and rubber bands. The structure had to support the weight of an empty paint can. If students needed more materials, they purchased them. This exercise introduced all the elements involved in a major, real-world engineering project: planning, communication, teamwork, deadlines, budgeting, meeting client expectations and the science behind structural stability.

The activity went beyond the academic introduction to engineering and gave students the opportunity to work together while trying to solve a common problem. Naturally, each student had a different design concept—so there was much discussion going on to decide on the “best” approach. Throughout the activity students complimented one another for their ideas and requested help as they strategically and carefully balanced and taped materials together.

“These types of activities are great for the kids because it helps develop communication skills, social skills, team work, problem solving, critical thinking skills, and demonstrates how a group can do more together than one person alone,” said Stacie Allphin, Director of Adolescent Services. “This is why the 12 Steps say ‘We,’ not ‘I.’ ‘We’ can do what ‘I’ cannot.”

Leading the Way to Life Skills Development

PaRC is teaming up with Junior Achievement—the world's largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.

Through the partnership, professionals will come into the classroom and share their workforce experience, teach sound economic principles and reinforce classroom material. The classroom volunteers transform the key concepts of lessons into a message that inspires and empowers students to believe in themselves, showing them they can make a difference in the world.

Students will also visit Junior Achievement’s Finance Park, for a day of personal financial planning, during which they have the opportunity to actually develop and commit to a personal budget.

“One of the great things about Junior Achievement is that the curriculum is correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS),” said Owen Clarke, PaRC teacher. “Not only will the students learn essential financial skills, but what they’re learning will supplement the required economic objectives they will be tested over.”

Encouraging Ongoing Academic and Sober Success

“We equip students to own their learning and to be good citizens so they are better prepared when they return to traditional schools, graduate and attend college or enter the workforce,” said Marsha Walker, PaRC teacher.

The teachers have added a level of college preparedness by organizing group tours of the University of St. Thomas, Rice University and University of Houston. These academic excursions serve as a reminder that there is life after treatment.

“We encourage the students to set goals for themselves,” said Walker. “Touring the campuses is my way of helping students take the first step in attaining their goals.”

To further their awareness of academic sober support, the director of the Cougars in Recovery (CIR) program at University of Houston recently visited PaRC students. During the visit, he told his personal recovery story and highlighted the availability of sober scholarships and the components of the CIR program.

After the visit, one student said, “I always wanted to go to college, but he has inspired me to go there. I want to go to college and be a part of a sober community.”

“We acknowledge the need for sober support once students enter college,” said Allphin. “We are doing what we can to help bridge the gap between recovery and education.”

Learn more about PaRC’s adolescent program and UT-UCS:

About the Author

Amanda Wyble, MS is Community Liaison for the adolescent program at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) in Houston, where she establishes community relationships and partnerships to expand PaRC’s reach in the community.

She invests her time in learning about the community’s need for substance abuse resources and education and strives to connect others with necessary information or services. Amanda also develops new program components for PaRC’s adolescent program and University of Texas Charter School.

She graduated with honors from the University of Houston-Clear Lake M.S. in Counseling program and has more than seven years of marketing and corporate communications experience.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 18 April 2014 13:49 )