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  • Kelsea smiles

    Kelsea is proud of her progress this year, both at school and in her professional life.

  • Kelsea with Ann

    Educational Assistant Ann DeBroux says that Kelsea is very well-equipped for her future.

  • Kelsea at work

    Kelsea was able to take the skills she was learning at TLC and apply them directly to her job, and the skills she was learning at her job gave her confidence in her school work.

  • Kelsea working on extra credit

    Attending TLC meant Kelsea had a flexible class schedule, which allowed her to work full time while she was earning the credits she needed to graduate.

  • Kelsea graduating

    Kelsea was able to complete all of the credits that she needed while attending the TLC program. On June 10, 2016, Kelsea graduated from high school.

Today Kelsea Cystrunk is described by her teachers as “one of the most well-equipped graduates that I know of to handle her future.” She’s worked tremendously hard to get there. Kelsea’s family moved a lot throughout her childhood, which meant she had to switch schools often. By the time she got to high school, Kelsea wasn’t getting what she needed out of the traditional high school experience. When she found out that she might not graduate with the rest of her class, Kelsea starting looking at alternative programs.

Her mom encouraged her to find a program that would support her in her goal of graduating on time, and Kelsea enrolled in the Transition Learning Center, or TLC.

This is not an uncommon story for students who come to TLC; it is one of several innovative and alternative programs that MMSD offers for students who need something different from a traditional school environment. Many of the students who enroll in TLC are looking for a fresh start.

TLC is a program located on Madison’s east side that focuses on an individualized approach for each student. Counselors look at the students’ transcripts to see where they are missing credits, and then work with the students to come up with a schedule which includes those specific subjects. The classes are taken primarily online, and the teachers in the program support students with individualized attention. Because of their small class sizes, around 15 students, teachers can focus their attention on each student’s individual needs.

TLC prides itself on helping students “cast a vision” for themselves, and tailoring their education to what each individual student wants to do after they graduate. Kelsea, for example, already has a job in a restaurant, and has recently been promoted to the management team. Attending TLC meant she had a flexible class schedule, which allowed her to be able to work full time while she was earning the credits she needed to graduate.

Ann DeBroux, an Educational Assistant who works at TLC, says that when Kelsea arrived at TLC she disliked certain topics. But it seemed to her as more of a confidence issue than a lack of skills. “She said she’s not good at math, and yet I think she’s really good at math. She deals with finances at her job and she’s obviously very respected with money.” Kelsea was able to take the skills she was learning at TLC and apply them directly to her job, and the skills she was learning at her job gave her confidence in her school work. Hear more in the sound clip below.

“When I started there,” Kelsea says, “I wasn’t really into the class. I started talking to the teachers more and getting my work done. I started participating with class activities. And getting along with everybody in class.”

Kelsea was able to complete all of the credits that she needed while attending the TLC program. On June 10, 2016, Kelsea walked across the stage with the rest of her class, and graduated from high school.

Greg Mawer, who teaches at TLC, describes Kelsea as an “outstanding graduate” and says that Kelsea has “blossomed” during her time there. Greg says that while working with her he noticed that she has developed increased self-awareness which has helped her “better advocate for her in class needs,” and says that Kelsea has a strong drive to learn, and is focused on her goals.

Ann also recognized Kelsea’s growth during her time at TLC. She says Kelsea “would always bring situations that were happening either in her personal life or her professional life. And the cool thing is, she came to decisions herself. She just needed to sound off of someone.” Ann says that Kelsea is very well-equipped for her future.

Kelsea is proud of her progress this year, both at school and in her professional life. “I do really good at my job and I do really good at school too." When asked why she believes she was promoted to the management team she had this to say.

Kelsea is planning to apply to Madison College for the spring 2017 semester. She is going to work full-time after graduation to save up money to pay her tuition.

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