The Shaw House in Bangor is generally considered to be a shelter for homeless teens. Now they’re giving teens more than just a place to live, they’re giving them a chance at an education. When you first walk in it looks like a traditional classroom. “The kids simply never miss a class,” says Shaw House Executive Director Carol Whitney.
It’s called the Carleton Project, a non-profit corporation that offers kids who have had trouble adapting to traditonal high schools a second chance at a high school diploma. “They teach in concepts,” says Whitney, “some of them are leadership, community service, and interpersonal relations and it’s a little different than you would find at a regular high school.”
Chris Betts is in charge of teaching the class and his approach is to keep his mind wide open. “I will use any technique for teaching that I can possibly think of,” Betts says, “there are traditional days where we do some work on the classroom board and then are some other days where I say you give me some ideas, what are we going to learn today?”
All of the work the students do earns them credits towards their diplomas. “It takes a lot of self motivation and energy on the youths behalf,” says Betts, “they’re in charge of of all their credits, keeping track of what they need to graduate.”
Erica Clark is 19-years-old and a student at the Carleton Project. “This really seems to be working out for me you know, in 30 days I’ve earned 2 1/2 credits. I’ve never done that good in school,” she says. Lew Eaton has attended numerous high schools and he says the Carleton Project is the right fit for him. “I’ve never been good at traditional school,” says Eaton, “I was like a normal teenager, skipping a lot, not really focusing on school and this helps me focus on school. This helps me more because I focus on me and what I want to get done.”
The hope here is that the project will help get these kids where they want to go. “I want my kids to take away things they will find useful when they go to college and when they’re on the jobsite,” says Betts.
“My plan is to to college in New York to become a cook,” says Eaton. Erica Clark has equally high aspirations and she hopes the Carleton Project is a stepping stone. “My future plan is to become an R.N.” says Clark, “my future, future goal is is to work in a laboratory for cancer research.”