Thursday, February 18, 2016

Helping Children, Families, and the Community through the Taylor County Education Center

Helping Children, Families, and the Community through the Taylor County Education Center

Taylor County Education Center
The Taylor County Education Center (TCEC) building has a rich history dating back to 1957.  It has been a Teacher's College, held University of Wisconsin classes, been the home for Medford Schools Kindergarten through 3rd Grade classes, and was a Northcentral Technical College regional campus for over 25 years. 

Over the past two years - one of the most unique partnerships for the Medford Area Public School District has been our increased participation in the Taylor County Education Center.  

Thanks to the support of the Taylor County Board of Directors and Taylor County Director of Building and Grounds Jeff Ludwig we are able to rent space to hold multiple programs in the building helping children, families, and the community.

Current Medford Schools programs in the Taylor County Education Center include: 

Medford Alternative High School
The Medford Alternative High School (formerly called the Taylor County Alternative HS Partnership) was started through a Department of Public Instruction Grant which was written by Medford Schools in partnership with Rib Lake Schools. We are now in our 16th year of providing alternative education options for Grades 11-12 students at-risk of not graduating from high school with all the years in the TCEC.   

From 2000 to 2015 we had 166 students graduate with a traditional or equivalency diploma. Students have two options to earn a high school diploma. They can achieve a high school diploma by meeting the current established credit standards and other courses or a pass a series of tests through the GED Option 2 waiver in the State of Wisconsin. 

All students attend classes in either the morning or afternoon sessions.  They are also required to perform 15 hours a week of volunteer or paid work experiences.  Students have performed thousands of hours of volunteer work, held jobs in the community, gone onto post-secondary education and enlisted in the military.  

Primary Alternative HS teacher is Kellie Keene, paraprofessional Gail Hoffman, and Principal Donald Everhard.  Contact number is 715-748-4620 ext 550. 

Medford Adult Diploma Academy
The Medford Adult Diploma Academy(MADA) opened its doors in September of 2010.  The goal is to offer adults in our community the opportunity to go back to school in a helpful, nonthreatening environment.  Our first year, two adults completed the requirements and earned their high school diploma.  Since then, we have had 86 adults enroll at the Medford Adult Diploma Academy and 20 adults have earned a Medford High School Diploma.

MADA is open from 1:00 - 8:00, Monday through Thursday.  We are located in Room 112 of the Taylor County Education Center, 624 College Street. Students each have an individualized pathway to graduation; they set their own schedule and work at their own pace.  There is always at least one certified and licensed instructor working with students.  We also provide individual tutors through the Taylor County Literacy Council, if students need extra help.

MADA is a collaborative partnership between the Medford Area Public School District and Northcentral Technical College. Administrative leadership is provided by Director of Student Services Joseph Greget and Instructors include Cindy Gibson (primary coordinator) and adjunct faculty Beth van der Berg, Kellie Keene, Misty Galli, and Tasha Mallak. Primary phone number is 715-748-4620 ext 552. 

Students Open to Achieving Reality (SOAR) for 18-21 year olds
SOAR is entering our 4th year of providing special education services for 18-21 year olds at the TCEC. Students with an Individualized Education Plan who have met graduation requirements, but still have IEP goals and objectives to work on are eligible for this placement.  We offer schooling Monday through Thursday and students attend Daily Living Classes in the morning, make their own meal for lunch, and then go to paid or volunteer work experiences in the afternoon. Students learn pre-vocational skills, vocational skills, and daily living/independent living skills.

New this year is a collaboration with Northcentral Technical College.  Students with an IEP can take select classes through NTC and earn certificates in the areas of Employability and Living Skills Certificate (Track 1), Pre-College Course Certificate (Track 2), and Program Specific Course Certificate (Track 3).  We have multiple students who attend these NTC classes and then receive tutorial support from SOAR instructors in those classes.  

SOAR instructor is Nicole Gripentrog and primary paraprofessional support is Janet Jurgens. Phone number is 715-748-4620 ext 551

Rural Virtual Academy
Rural Virtual Academy (RVA) is our fastest growing school in the Medford Area Public School District.  RVA provides families with a virtual online charter school options for students in Pre-Kindergarten through 10th grade.  The acronym for RVA stands for Relationships, Values, and Academics. RVA is consortium of 15 area school districts and the Medford Area Public School District is the lead school in the consortium.  RVA has been offering services for 10 years and continues to grow at a rapid rate.  

Principal Charles Heckel and Dean of Students Sara Holewinski provides the exemplary leadership under a Governance Board. RVA employs multiple teachers, special education staff, and paraprofessional support to help deliver services for students across Wisconsin, U.S., and abroad.

RVA has over 300 plus students that receive year round educational services.  All of the RVA students and their families visit the TCEC at least annually for statewide testing and other events. RVA has a main office in the TCEC.  Contact information is 1-888-801-2666 or visit their website at

Medford Schools Early Childhood and Speech Language
Due to shortage of available space in school buildings - we have been able to rent a room that is used for primary and itinerant 3 and 4 year old early childhood and speech language services.  Our EC/Speech Language classroom is taught out of by SLP Sheryl Balciar, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Amber Fettes, and SLP Ann Jochimsen which helps them provide quality speech/language therapy and early education services for some of their students with disabilities. 

Taylor County Literacy Council
Taylor County Literacy Council offers Adult Tutoring, English Language Learner classes, Little Free Libraries, Reading Classes for Parents, Evidence based reading instruction classes/training, Early Head Start Parent Education classes, Reach Out and Read at Aspirus in Medford (books for each child 6 months through 4 years of age at well-child checks by pediatricians), Newborn Project partnership with Taylor County Health Department, and monthly book donations.  

Taylor County Literacy Council recently became a non-profit 501 C 3 tax status. Board of Directors include: President Joseph Greget, Vice-President Kathy Stamos, Secretary - Misty Galli, and Treasurer Chuck Prihoda.  Cindy Gibson is the lead coordinator. We have active membership from other council members in the planning and implementation of our activities.  

Taylor County Literacy Council meets the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm in Room 112 at the Taylor County Education Center.  Contact Cindy Gibson at 715-748-4620 ext 552 for more information. 

Taylor County Autism Support Group
Taylor County Autism Support Group provides resource, information, and support services for families, school staff, and community members who are involved with children or adults on the autism spectrum. 

We meet the Third Monday of each Month at 6:00 pm at TCEC.  Our meetings include parent chats, specialized trainings, coordination and collaboration with outside agencies, and questions/answers for those wanting to learn more. 

During the 15-16 school year we have or will be offering First Responder, Law Enforcement, and Caregiver Trainings on Keeping Kids with Autism Safe (October), Asperger Syndrome and High School training (February - presentation by Dr. Jodi Nuernberger), Dental Care for Special Needs children (November - presentation by Dr. Hager), and more exciting events coming up. 

Board of Directors include: President Joseph Greget, Vice-President Diane Messman, Secretary - Ann Goodrich, and Treasurer - Kris Brandner. We have active involvement from other parents, school staff, and community members. 

For more information - contact President Joseph Greget at 715-748-2316 ext 324. 

Other Agencies
The Medford Area Public School District enjoys the collaboration of shared space and services in the TCEC to help better serve our students, families, and the community.  In addition to our programs the following agencies also have space in the TCEC: 

Indianhead Community Action Agency
Indianhead Community Action Agency (ICAA) is one of Wisconsin's 16 Community Action Agencies in Wisconsin and one of approximately 1,100 CAA in the United States. Created in 1966, with its corporate offices in Ladysmith, ICAA covers six counties in Northwest Wisconsin including Taylor County. ICAA's primary mission is to assist individuals in achieving self-sufficiency by providing the resources, education, and services necessary to develop healthy families, sustainable communities, and strong local business. 

ICAA currently has two primary programs housed in the TCEC:  

The largest of these is the Head Start program which provides early education services for 3-5 year old students.  Head Start is a federal program that provides quality early childhood services to low-income and at-risk families. Parent education is a component of their quality program as well. Contact information is 715-748-7936.

ICAA operates a Food Pantry that provides free food for families in need.  For more information and available hours contact 715-748-3063. 

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 
The Division of Vocational Rehabilition (DVR) is part of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Contact information is 715-748-6120 or 1-877-387-3879. 

DVR helps implement Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to provide "comprehensive, coordinated, effective, efficient, and accountable programs of vocational rehabilitation that are designed to assess, plan, develop, and provide vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice, so that such individuals may prepare for and engage in gainful employment." P.L. 105-220 s. 100 (a) (2)

DVR can provide active services for children with disabilities as young as 14 years of age up through adulthood.  

Taylor County W-2 Forward Services
Forward Service Corportation is a non-profit employment and training organization. Founded in 1979 they have more than 35 years of experience in helping low income Wisconsin adults and youth begin their careers. Forward Services offer education, training, career guidance, and support services. 

Conference Rooms
Taylor County offers large and small conference rooms available for rent by anyone in Taylor County.  This allows the TCEC to offer rental room space for conferences, meetings, or training.  On a regular basis the Taylor County Transition Advisory Council, Special Education Advisory Council, Taylor County Early Childhood Sub-Committee, Taylor County Transition Night Event and Taylor County Interagency Communications Committee have used these conference rooms. 

In conclusion - we are fortunate to have the Taylor County Education Center being used by the Medford Area Public School District and the other multiple agencies and councils which help service our youth, families, and community. Not every community has this option, but I am glad here in Taylor County that we do.  

Joseph A. Greget
Director of Student Services/Special Education
Medford Area Public School District
715-748-2316 ext 324

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