Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs


2017 MAAP Conference

No Risk, No Reward! Reaching and Teaching At-Risk Youth

What a great conference! We had the largest attendance in a number of years, and the keynote speakers were truly amazing. The conference evaluation forms will be emailed shortly.

Letter from Senator Klobuchar

Below you will find the kind letter that Senator Amy Klobuchar sent to our Executive Director, Steve Allen. It is truly rewarding to see that our work is appreciated:
Letter from Senator Amy Klobuchar


2017 MAAP Conference Handouts

In our effort to experiment with a paperless confernce, we have placed all the handouts in your folder on the website. Click here to find the handouts:

MAAP Staff Member of the Year

Mike Myers-Schleif
McKinley Area Learning Center

Mike has been a teacher at McKinley ALC for 19 years. During those years, he has been not only an outstanding and creative social studies teacher, but also a leader in activities that benefit alternative students. He has been involved in MAAP STARS Fall Leadership activity, often in organizational/leadership role.

Mike's long term involvement in the Youth Service Project for 19 years. It is one of the longest running service projects in the state, and the longest service project between District 742 and the St. Cloud VAMC. Mike is involved in fundraising activities, student recruitment for the program and planning activities for the events we are involved in during the school year, as well as participation in the program on site at the VAMC.

The Youth Service Project is a program that pairs at-risk adolescents with area veterans in our community. This is a site that our students would rarely access and certainly not do volunteer work there without the program. He makes sure that students are good students and citizens at school and that they truly understand what these veterans have given for our country. He does this in his classroom with students, but most importantly models it while at the VA. Part of the program that was added is called "Vet Connection" where our students interview a veteran on three occasions during the school year. It is moving and often life changing for our students to hear their stories.

Mike is a teacher that has high expectations for students, both in his classroom and in the activities he is in involved in outside of the building. Students have great respect for Mike, and he is influential in their lives. He stays in contact with students and many will come back years later to work with us at the VA or to simply visit him at school.

MAAP School of the Year

SouthWest Metro High School

In 2013 the Carver Scott Educational Cooperative and the Minnesota River Valley Special Education Cooperative merged to become the SouthWest Metro Educational Cooperative, and with legislative approval July 1, 2016, it became the SouthWest Metro Intermediate District 288. The Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative (CSEC) was one of the original four Area Learning Centers created by the legislature in 1987 so has more experience and historical knowledge of alternative education than almost every program in the state. It has been a leader in the field and has applied lessons learned through the many changes in education models over all these years.

Like so many ALCs in the state of Minnesota, students who had not found success in the K-12 system were initially drawn to the program to make up credits. However, they stayed because they found a place where the teachers understood them, they found a place to belong. From the beginning the program incorporated a dedicated Case-Management system to ensure every student had one adult who remained a constant presence throughout their educational experience with us. This structure helps achieve one of the most effective strategies used to engage at risk youth, that of each student establishing an ongoing, meaningful relationship with a caring adult.

SWMetro HS, the new version of the ALC, continues the long tradition of providing a second chance for youth at risk for academic failure and economic insufficiency. Even though the problems and issues that students face today have become infinitely more complicated, the staff remain committed to finding what works for each student. Several program options are available to help them create a plan to overcome the barriers and challenges keeping them from finishing high school.

A major key to the success of SWMetro HS is those program components that typically are offered in isolation in other programs are seamlessly incorporated into the program at large. The program is based on the philosophy that “we care for all students” so all staff work with every kid. Essential Mental Health services include counseling for addiction, depression, anxiety and more, but the mental health professional doesn’t just conduct groups for those with a diagnosis, the provide support and educational activities to all students in the program. Essential services for young mothers such as childcare, parenting skills and counseling are available throughout the day as are special education services for those with diverse needs. The career counselor who helps facilitate a positive transition to what comes next for students when they leave us is available to all students, not just those who may be college bound.

Keynote Speaker: Yong Zhao

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Dr. Yong Zhao is a distinguished educator. He is the author of over 100 articles and 30 books, including: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China had the Best (and Worst) Education system in the World. He most recently authored Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes. Currently, he is a professor of the University of Oregon in Eugene. He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Zhao, born and raised in China, received his B.A. in English Language Education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages in Chongqing, China in 1986. Later, after teaching English language in China, Dr. Zhao attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. There, he received his A.M. in 1994 and his PhD in 1996.

Dr. Zhao has spent his career challenging conventional and traditional education practices and pedagogies. He has rallied against the privatization of public education.

He has also been critical of the testing movement and the Common Core standards. Instead, Dr. Zhao feels that education should focus on developing learners’ creativity. His book, World Class Learners, makes the case that students need to become entrepreneurs—creators and innovators. This is what American education (actually, education everywhere) should aim for.

MAAP is very fortunate to have Yong Zhao as their guest and keynote speaker for the 2017 state conference. He adds to our list of very distinguished and accomplished educational thinkers and activists.

Our own Gretchen Harriman has prepared a book review of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon". Click on the link below to read it.

Book Review of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon"

Keynote Speaker: Craig Boykin

Craig Boykin presents From GED to Ph.D.

"If you think education is boring, try sitting in the food stamp office all day!" -Craig Boykin

I was sitting in a crowd of educators a couple years ago when a speaker, Craig Boykin, began telling a story about changing dysfunction and deficits into triumph. To say I was moved by his humility and passion is an understatement.

I am thrilled that Craig has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the MAAP Winter Conference. Craig won me over again by his passion and dedication to change people’s lives and help educators grow.

Craig works with educators to help them find innovative ways to teach and understand some of the most troubled children. One of my favorite quotes of his is, "At-Risk Youth don't care about your curriculum and lesson plans, until you start caring about their circumstances.”

Craig travels the country presenting his seminars and workshops. He has published five books since 2013 and has been featured on talk shows, won awards, and his story has been shared in many inspirational magazines and across the web. My Life, Your Inspiration is a great read and is an autobiography about the difficulties and setbacks that he faced and turned them into opportunities.

Craig will also have two breakout sessions at this year’s conference for follow-up questions and research-based strategies for helping our students. Mark your calendars for the MAAP’s 34th Annual Winter Conference on February 8-10 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

Keynote Speaker - Patty Wetterling

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Did you know Patty Wetterling received her B.S. degree from Mankato State University...majoring in Math and Psychology? She also has 5 years of experience teaching secondary math in Maryland and Iowa.

Patty was selected by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the “100 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Century” and recently received the Governor’s “Leadership Award for Unique Acts of Kindness.” She has received a variety of awards including “Eleven Who Care” sponsored by the NBC affiliate, KARE 11-TV in Minneapolis. In addition, she has received several honors from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children including “10th Anniversary Award”, “The Rainbow Award” and “The Vision Award”.

Patty was instrumental in the passage of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children Sex Offender Registration Act on the state level as well as part of the 1994 Federal Crime Bill. She was instrumental in establishing the statewide AMBER Plan in Minnesota and was a keynote speaker for the very first AMBER Plan training in Dallas, Texas. Patty has presented at four Missing Children’s Day Ceremonies in Washington DC with John Walsh and Attorneys General Janet Reno, John Ashcroft, Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch. Patty served on a panel at the very first White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children in October 2002, sponsored by President George and First Lady Laura Bush. She will be joining us in Mankato on Friday, February 10th to spread her message that all children deserve to grow up in a safe environment, and pursue their dreams.