MT Learning Center set to debut in 2019-20

By Jennifer Woods -

The Miami Trace Learning Center (MTLC) is a new project that will be ready for use by the upcoming school year.

An open house for the MTLC is currently set for Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

According to Miami Trace Local Schools Superintendent David Lewis and Miami Trace Assistant Superintendent Kim Pittser, the MTLC will provide two programs—one for alternative school students and one for behavioral students while remaining on the Miami Trace campus—where all the Miami Trace schools and its district office are located.

The modulars already on campus are being renovated for this purpose.

Lewis explained this project has been part of discussions for approximately two years.

The vision for the MTLC is, according to its pamphlet, to “use customized educational services in a healthy environment to support students in developing themselves as responsible, independent learners and productive community members.”

The learning center will house one side for the alternative school, which will include two classrooms—one for K-6th grades and one for 7-12th grades, one side for the behavioral students’ classrooms—restrooms, a lunch room, an office for Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Monty Coe, the Miami Trace resource officer, an office for Jack Anders, Miami Trace student safety and attendance coordinator, a community room and a sensory room.

Previously, Miami Trace had to utilize the Fayette County Alternative School, which is conducted by the court system and must be shared with Washington Court House City Schools—this meant they could only send approximately 12 students at once.

With the new MTLC, up to 24 students can be in alternative school at once if needed. “Hopefully we never do, but we can,” Lewis said. “The alternative school is basically in lieu of the suspension and expulsion program.”

The behavioral students, meaning those who have difficulty learning in the typical classroom setting, had to be bused elsewhere for their education. With the new learning center, those students can stay on the Miami Trace campus.

According to Pittser, they hope to transition these behavioral students into regular classes through the program, even if it means they take one or two extracurricular classes at a time outside the program.

Pittser said, “The community room will be utilized for a number of things. We’re excited to have a place where—if we are working with external agencies or organizations coming in to provide various treatments—they have a room dedicated to that time.”

Staffing will include director of MTLC, Debbie Southward, who is currently the assistant principal at the Miami Trace Middle School, Alternative School Coordinator Joe Henry, who previously worked for the Fayette County Alternative School, intervention specialists Becky Bennett and John McHugh, three full-time educational aides, and Tara Walker, a full-time on-staff mental health counselor through a contract with Eastway.

Lewis said the open house is “open to the community as well as those families of students who will be attending the behavioral side.”

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.

By Jennifer Woods