Fresh Start For Alternative Students

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- More than 30,000 students start school Wednesday at Des Moines Public Schools and some have a lot more to look forward to than just some new school supplies. The new Jesse Franklin Taylor Education Center is finished. The alternative middle school students and preschoolers will use the brand new 9 million dollar building.

Last year the program operated out of McKee Elementary. The old building didn’t have air conditioning, teachers used chalk boards, and the layout and size of the rooms was designed for elementary students. The new building has a more mature and modern feel with vaulted ceilings, lots of natural light, and more appropriate space. The 45,000 square foot building provides a more intimate community atmosphere which is important for these students.

The school serves many students with behavioral and emotional issues who need a smaller more structured environment. This is the first time Des Moines Public Schools has designed a brand new building specifically for alternative students. Teachers hope the new school sends a new message to students. “You’re here to get the support that you need. And we care about you,” said instructor Sara Lehman.

In Lehman’s classroom is a quote, “The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.”

Lehman hopes this building will be another reminder for students of how much this school cares when words are not enough.

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