Juneau-Douglas High School's CHOICE program received national recognition today as four of its teachers, past and present, were among 25 educators nationwide named to USA Today's 2001 All-USA Teacher First Team.
The award goes to current CHOICE teachers Barbara Bonner and Lisa Eagan, JDHS assistant principal and CHOICE co-founder Laury Scandling, and CHOICE co-founder Mark Roschy, who left Juneau earlier this year.
CHOICE, which stands for Choosing Healthy Options In Cooperative Education, is a five-year-old program open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors at JDHS. It targets students at risk of dropping out, and provides a full range of classroom instruction in an atmosphere that better suits their learning style, educators said.
CHOICE incorporates internships, community service and a number of retreats throughout the year. It also works to deal with issues and conflicts the students face outside of school.
The teachers said the recognition was particularly meaningful given the long hours and personal commitment they have given to CHOICE.
"It felt so good," Scandling said. "I felt validated."
Eagan said news of the award was "invigorating."
USA Today reporter Tracey Wong Briggs, who coordinates the All-USA Teacher First Team program, said entrants could be nominated by anyone. In this case, a friend of Scandling sent in the nomination.
In addition to biographical information and essays from the nominees, also required were two letters of recommendation one from a current colleague and one from a past or present student or parent.
Although she was not a judge, Wong Briggs said CHOICE stood out to her for creating a close-knit atmosphere within JDHS.
"With the CHOICE team, what I thought was interesting was that the work (created) a community of learners within a large school," she said. "They really go the extra mile."
This year's USA Today All-USA Teacher First Team awards recognized 17 individuals and three teams of teachers, including CHOICE. The teachers will receive a trophy and $2,500 will go to the CHOICE program.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.