Mesa Center for Success provides alternative education for students with special needs
October 8, 2017
By Melody Birkett
Students with special needs require a special education, and one Mesa academic institution strives to provide not just schoolwork, but social settings and career preparation.
The Mesa Center for Success, in a public/private partnership with the Mesa Public School District, serves about 120 at-risk students in grades K-12.
“We partner with the district and ensure that we’re meeting all of their educational standards,” said Director of Operations Rory Conran. “What we do is develop a program around the needs of the district and the community, ensuring we’re educating students that need a little bit of help.”
The curriculum goes beyond tutoring. Mesa Center for Success collaborates daily with Mesa Public Schools to set up students for success. Schools contact the center and ask them to help. How long a student stays at Mesa Center for Success depends on a couple of different factors.
“It depends on the individual student and the plan that is put in place as to length,” Conran said, “but the ultimate goal is to get them integrated back into their home school.”
Students are sent to the school when they’re close to being suspended or expelled from their public school. Mesa Center for Success doesn’t believe in expelling any student, but instead in finding ways to deal with the behavioral issues that got them kicked out.
“One of our organizational mottos is ‘We never give up,’ since all students have a right to learn, be in school and have an opportunity to achieve success,” Conran added.
Mesa Center for Success is one of 16 schools operated by the Menta Group in Arizona and Illinois. The school follows the Menta approach that emphasizes personalization, preparation for life and support for success.
“It goes into where there’s a lot of trauma focus, which is very therapeutic, along with anything else the students might need in order to be successful in an educational setting,” Conran explained.
Another focus is social-emotional learning. This translates into better performance in school and fewer behavioral problems for students. An additional goal of the school is to prepare students for college or a career. A big part of that is knowing how to be a citizen.
In addition to academics, The Menta Group defines success in all aspects of students’ lives. They believe all must graduate with the three C’s: citizenship ready, career ready and college ready.
Part of that is providing students with the necessary skills to find a job and further their education, as well as life skills to function in the community.
The staff goes through extensive training in order to meet the needs of the students they serve. Once the staff thinks a student is ready to return to their own school, the reintegration process begins.
During the 2015-16 school year, more than 100 students graduated from Menta programs in Illinois and Arizona. For more information, visit menta.com.