'FUTURE THINKING': TROY Center works on partnerships, goals for student achievement

COLUMBIA CITY — Since TROY Center became accredited in August, the school staff has continued to secure partnerships and work with students’ goals, making the atmosphere a warm, caring environment.“We’re just trying to do a lot more future thinking,” said TROY Administrator Nicole Trier.Trier said TROY’s first intention is to partner with schools in the area before having students apply for vouchers. “If a student comes to us and they want to enroll, we’re going to first see if the schools are willing to refer them,” said Trier.According to Trier, the county continues to support TROY and money received from schools, the voucher program or scholarships goes toward academic programming.“So that money goes to pay for our teachers, support in the classroom, books and everything in the classroom.Accreditation and graduationWhat started as an afterschool program, back in 1977, grew to add an alternative learning and finally, accreditation.According to Trier, TROY currently works with a total of 24 kids, middle school and high school ages, as they strive to receive a diploma.“I think the kids have felt a sense of pride in that this is their school,” said Trier. “We’re able to issue credits. We’re able to say this is the credit that you earned. It’s given us reassurance and just kind of reaffirmed in us that we were on the right track in what we were doing.”Trier said the state did not require TROY to make any changes in its curriculum, only changes in the hours of operation.“We now start at 9 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m., which isn’t that big of a change,” said Trier.Trier said she thinks the students can hold their heads high knowing TROY is accredited.“These kids are required to meet all the same standards as everyone else in school,” said Trier. “They know this isn’t a lesser than diploma.”According to Trier, it is making minor changes, like adding things like a case worker that enables students to more easily connect to the school and the staff there.“We provide a case worker for every student,” said Trier. “They meet with them individually every week. They run groups with them every week to teach different social skills. They also meet with each parent of every student this year, every week, and that’s what allows us to be successful because we are working on the social skills that get in the way of education.”Making it relevantAccording to Trier, TROY’s motto is “to do whatever it takes.” That motto often means getting to know the students on a personal level, including knowing where they come from and what struggles they are dealing with on a daily basis. “Some students here are going through tough experiences in life, and what we try to do is to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and relevant to their lives, otherwise, something like Algebra may not seem quite so important.”Goals are set by the school, encouraging kids to give up things they may be addicted to.“We have a poster that shows what each student has given up, and we only encourage them to sign the poster if they believe they will commit to that goal,” said Trier.This is a two-part series on TROY Center. For the second part of the story, see Monday's edition of The Post & Mail.