Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth Program


Compass Academy is operated by JusticeWorks YouthCare Inc.  Compass Academy is an approved provider for Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth (AEDY) by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  The Compass Academy provides alternative education programming that is designed to reduce drop-out rates, increase school attendance, develop skills that enhance academic performance, and increase graduation rates.  Non-traditional students are given the opportunity to experience learning through small group instruction in a structured environment with teachers that emphasize a differentiated approach to teaching.

Compass Academy’s academic curriculum is parallel to Pennsylvania Academic standards.  In addition, other materials, curriculum, support, and guidance is provided to support students towards meeting District and state requirements to either graduate, or transition back to their home school.

Capacity to Provide Alternative Education

Our alternative education division is committed to providing a safe and highly structured educational setting, improve student’s academic performance, and improve school attendance. We achieve this by increasing the family’s involvement; expect high levels of student accountability, and design specific measurable goals for each student. JWYC seeks public and private partners to implement our alternative education model.  This model works with students:

Who are at risk of dropping out of school or have already done so;

Experiencing behavioral or emotional difficulties and/or specific learning disabilities in their home school;

  • Expelled or suspended from school;
  • In need of family counseling and support;
  • Returning to the community from residential treatment or placement;
  • Habitually truant and/or exhibit defiant behavior
  • In conflict with school officials, including persistent violation of school policies and rules.

The Compass Academy currently contracts with the following School Districts for AEDY services:

  • North Schuylkill School District
  • Pine Grove School District
  • Mount Carmel Area School District
  • Shamokin Area School District
  • Mahanoy Area School District
  • Line Mountain School District
  • Southern Columbia School District

JWYC believes that all students have dignity, worth and the ability to learn. Our programs are specifically designed to meet the needs of the school district, while implementing an approach that helps students make substantial gains educationally, emotionally and socially.  We hire faculty with the best credentials and experience to meet the needs of the districts and the at-risk youth we serve.

We find a way to succeed with troubled youth who have made a career of failure. We combine behavior management and clinical practice; graduated sanctions; teaching employability skills and social skills in order to produce better outcomes for kids and communities. Our efforts are guided by the following principles:

  • We work in partnership with public systems (Juvenile Courts, Children & Youth Agencies, Education, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse) to cost-effectively treat troubled youth. We invite feedback and use our partners’ concerns to continually improve our efforts.
  • Compass Academy emphasizes students to learn the four core subject areas of academics and life skills programming to enhance independence and self-worth.
  • We offer solution focused group counseling on a regular basis which outlines prevention strategies for key social issues in the districts that include, peer pressure, labeling, defense mechanism, conflict resolution, motivation, resource attainment, and self-respect.
  • We are reliable, responsive partners who provide relief to overburdened court systems, and the corrosive effects of out-of-control youth in schools and communities. We promote and provide safety in our programs, and beyond. Our services are congruent with the principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice.
  • We respond quickly and professionally to referrals. We take pride in accepting and succeeding with difficult kids with a history of failure.
  • Our programs operate to the highest professional standards and adhere to state-of-the-art quality assurance practices.
  • We understand that youth are unlikely to sustain positive behavior unless their families can actively support them. We engage families and assist them in resolving problems and developing a supportive culture.
  • Innovative education and skills development programs prepare youth to enter and succeed in the world of work.
  • Discipline is applied on a graduated basis with the goal of effecting positive change. Families and other stakeholders are encouraged to apply natural consequences, which will guide youth appropriately.
  • We understand that in human services, the “how” is more important than the “what,” and the “what” is directly related to the “who.” Our staff complement reflects the cultural diversity of the youth we work with. Staff has the requisite educational and work experiences, but most importantly, bring empathy and a “whatever it takes” philosophy to succeed with troubled youth and their families.
  • JusticeWorks has targeted the gaps in the system within Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare systems to offer innovative programs. Our services are designed to aid overburdened public systems and workers and to be cost-effective (often saving more than they cost!). We routinely assess outcomes and use the results to refine our programs. We are proud of the positive outcomes achieved with very challenging populations and our goal is to be distinguished as the highest quality provider.

Program Services Available To School Entities

Classroom instruction will be provided by a certified teacher who will be assisted by a Personal Development Coach.  The curriculum will be aligned with the sending school district in order to have students achieve graduation requirements or return to their regular grade.  Core schedule of courses will include, English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Physical Education, Health, and Life Skill group work.  The academic plan will be identified in the Academic/Emotional Growth plan which every student will have.  The academic portion will have measurable goals which will include class participation, test and quiz scores, homework evaluation, and attendance.  All students will be given the support and tools to be academically successful.  As progress is made to the satisfaction of the sending school district, return to a regular education setting will be mapped out for the youth.

Each of these areas will be measured on the daily behavioral sheet which in turn drives the weekly level system.  Each student will have their progress assessed as stated in the Review of Students section.  The goals for the Academic/Emotional Growth Plan can change at any time based on student performance.  The AIMsSweb System and the Saxon Math will be completed periodically throughout the school year.  PSSA’s will be provided to students when appropriate.  All communication with the above benchmark tools will be reviewed with the sending school district and parents.

Compass Academy will work with the sending school district in addressing students with special needs.  If there are special accommodations that are required, Compass Academy will work with the sending district to determine what avenue will best benefit the student.  If the goals or accommodations cannot be met by Compass Academy, then other options will have to be discussed with the sending district.  The goal of Compass Academy is to meet all the needs of our students and all specific issues individual to each youth.

All communication with the district and family will occur on a weekly basis through the level system.  Progress reviews are quarterly with bi-annual reviews done on site with students, families, and home school representatives.

Behavioral Assessments

Compass Academy understands the more information gathered on our students, the potential for success is greatly enhanced.  Upon entering the program, students will be given a variety of assessments in conjunction with looking over their school records.  The following behavioral assessments will be given:

  • Social Skills Rating System (SSRS)
  • Functional Assessment Checklist for Teachers and Staff (FACTS-Part A&B)

If these assessments cannot give a clear picture of the student needs, then the Child & Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS) will also be administered.

Planned Behavioral Component

To ensure a positive school climate Compass Academy will be implementing a proactive systems approach by initiating a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Systems model. The Integration of the PBIS system will support the school rules, routines and behavioral expectations of the students.  It will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Direct instruction/counseling
  • Social skills instruction
  • Student expectations stated clearly and in view for all
  • Training of staff to focus on positive interactions with students
  • Positive reinforcements
  • Family involvement
  • Behavior Management Plan with a point system

To ensure that the data will reflect a decrease in negative behaviors and an increase in observed positive social interactions with peers and in the community the following will be implemented.

  1. Staff to create a goal plan for each student with benchmark dates to reach.  Goal plan is also supplemented by a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA).
  2. Students participate in group counseling that will consist of but not be limited to Anger Management, Social Skills, Grief Counseling, Conflict Resolution, and Self Esteem.
  3. Staff to meet on a regular basis and discuss students to ensure they are all meeting program goals.
  4. Educators to help students reach their maximum potential in the classroom environment.
  5. Staff work with families before and after transition to ensure each student gets the counseling they need and set them up with outside resources when needed.
  6. Teachers to work with each student at the academic level where they are performing and help them to integrate back into the regular mainstream of academics at their grade level.
  7. The WhyTry curriculum will be implemented as part of regular instruction as part of Life Skills.  WhyTry has been proven to reduce school violence and lower dropout rates.

Improvement of students’ behavior, academics and social interactions will be reflected in the counseling program that students will be participating in.  The following is a brief description of the benefit of the services offered.

  • The benefits of having the counseling/therapy program within the school setting allows children and adolescents an opportunity to achieve personal growth through improved self-awareness, social skills and to explore unresolved emotional conflicts.  Our program offers an effective way for our students to work on coping skills, self-esteem, teamwork, communication, anger management and self-discovery.  Feeling good about themselves enables children to learn more effectively, helps them to cope with life’s stresses, and inspires them to create a better future for themselves.
  • The counseling program provides our students with the tools and skills they need to be successful in their regular school setting.
  • Our program will allow us to incorporate a behavioral approach within our groups.  In this way the group sessions supports their general education program, PBIS rules and the school wide reinforcement plan. This avoids the problem of having group time seen as an interruption of and conflict with the behavioral goals of the overall educational program.

Families and Positive Behavior Support

The link between families and positive behavioral interventions and supports is a critical one. When families are meaningfully involved in educational activities their children do better in schools. The JWYC model for PBIS involves family members from the very initiation of implementation.  Family members participate in planning teams, learn how to teach their children the importance of school-wide expectations at home and in the community, and are asked to volunteer in related school activities including school celebrations, public relations and the search for donations and free resources that might be available within the community to support some of the activities of the PBIS model.

JWYC believes teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is of much greater benefit to the students, school and community rather than waiting for behavior to occur before responding.

Community Partnership

The Compass Academy strives to instill the importance of community involvement and good citizenship with all of our students. We feel that often students placed in an Alternative School are falsely labeled as “bad kids” and they have nothing positive to offer the communities in which they reside.  The Compass Academy currently works closely with several local businesses, providing our students an opportunity to volunteer, gaining valuable work experience as well as learning the social skills needed to be successful on the job.

We have a yearly Community Day.  Community Day provides an opportunity for local business leaders to tour our school and be a part of the day’s activities.  Each year the activities are based around a theme, and is directed and guided by the youth that attend the academy.  The goal of Community Day is to instill a sense of community appreciation to the youth, celebrate tasks, and have the students actively participate in activities guided by them.