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AEC spells success

There are so many spellings and acronyms for school programs that it’s hard to keep track of what they all mean. In Brainerd Public Schools, AEC stands for “Area Education Center,” which is an alternative school program that has supported student success for more than 25 years.

Students come to our program because of challenges in their lives. Those challenges are as varied as the students who attend here. The mission of our program has always remained the same — to help students meet their life challenges and move forward with their educational and personal goals. And with hard work and perseverance those students can earn a Brainerd High School diploma.

Very often students and their families come to our program because the students have not been successful in a traditional school setting. For many of our students, school success has been elusive for years. We serve students whose life circumstances have made school progress slow to a halt.

Over the years the AEC has often been misunderstood as a school for the “bad kids.” Not true. The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and ability levels. AEC offers the hope of a fresh start and a different way of doing school that provides a smaller school environment and access to academic and counseling support. Our goal is to meet each student at his or her educational journey.

The opportunity to pursue a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or adult diploma is also possible here and we have partnered with many agencies including the National Guard, Teen Challenge, and Central Lakes College to provide some unique formats for attaining these certificates.

Along with high school and GED/Adult Basic Education programming, we have a middle school program in our building. We have a group of middle school students in need of an alternative setting to find academic success. Our Middle Level Alternative Program (MLAP) serves students from Brainerd Public Schools in grades 5-8. Along with academics, the program provides an opportunity for students to build relationships with their peers, staff, and community partners to build the self confidence that is missing from their lives.

We have found building relationships with students is the key to their future success, inside the classroom and in the community. We work hard to connect with our students and provide the help and support they need to be lifelong members of our community. One of the comments we hear repeatedly from students is, “I wish I would have decided to go to school here a long time ago.” At conferences, parents of successful students are tremendously thankful for the support their children receive in our programs. The key to our success is dedicated, compassionate staff members who are experts at helping students regain “traction” in their education and their future. AEC spells “success.”