New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) – Education is crucial for children to learn and grow into functioning adults. But not every child learns in the same way or in the same environment. CT Style Host Natasha Lubczenko  was joined in the studio by Timothy Howes, ACES Deputy Executive Director and Dr. Lisa Simone, Principal of The Bridge at ACES, to discuss their Alternative Education School programs.

Dr. Simone starts by talking about their Regions program, and what it offers students who may find it difficult to achieve success in the traditional classroom setting.

She says that approximately three years ago, they had the opportunity to work with students within the Juvenile Justice System. They first opened an educational program in Hartford County, and then another one in Hamden. They will be opening another one in Plainville, as well. Regions teachers work closely with students in these programs while they’re in the facilities. She says that many of these kids have learned to become exceptional students while working with their teachers, and the program also offers vocational opportunities to help them explore other career options.

The original Regions program opened the doors to what is now The Bridge at ACES, located in Hamden. It is a true Alternative High School, but they also work with 7th & 8th grade students. This program came about because ACES administrators discovered that although students were ready to leave the Juvenile Justice system to go back to their original community schools, they were often experiencing a gap. So, they developed a program to help these students transition into a more typical High School setting, yet in an environment that was not quite so big. In The Bridge program, students are held to high academic standards, similar to what would be expected in an AP curriculum. The school also offers social-emotional learning, and dialectical behavior therapy – which is teaching students how to stop before making a reactive decision. Both involve learning important life skills.

ACES is currently looking into creating a large vocational center, where students would potentially have opportunities with manufacturing, such as having simulators for CDL work, and forklift training.

Tim Howes says that these programs tie into the mission of ACES, because they’re always looking at ways to connect with the students and are evaluating what the needs of the students are. He reiterated that there remains a significant gap for students transitioning from the Juvenile Justice System, returning to school in their home community.

When asked how students can find their way into these programs, Dr. Simone mentions that interested parents can review the Bridges website to see if their programs and learning models are a good match, but the majority of  The Bridge placements come to her office as a referral from a student’s home district. She says that typically, a parent comes in with a student to tour the facility and program, ask questions, and find out if it makes sense to pursue the enrollment.

To learn more about The Bridge at ACES program, visit their website at: