Recently, there has been increased attention paid to suspensions within the RCSD – and what can be done. This week I had the chance to see for myself when I was invited to the LyncX Academy at the Marshall Campus.
As explained to me by Principal Walter Larkin Jr, the LyncX LTS Program serves students grades 7-12 who have committed severe violations of the RCSD student code of conduct and been suspended from their home school. Fundamentally, Larkin emphasizes that his students are usually not succeeding in school and life. In addition to academic support, Larkin’s mission is to provide missing “social emotional skills and tools.” To help kids who have lost their way get back in synch.
During my two days there, I met some kids with undeniable issues. One had brought a knife into school in his backpack. A girl was accused of stealing IPhones and wallets. A boy was in a gang fight. Others smelled and acted like they had smoked before school. The list goes on.
But I also saw good things. At LyncX, the students are actually better behaved than at their home schools. I had a distinct sense that many had gotten in trouble—“acted out”—as the proverbial cry for help, an admission they are having problems. And at LyncX they get help. In every classroom, I saw teachers working one-on-one with students whose behavioral issues and academic failures were inseparable but not hopeless.
Most memorably, one girl helped teach the class deep breathing exercises she had learned in anger management counseling. A group of six girls took it upon themselves to organize their own “peace circle,” each sharing a concern and giving advice.
No doubt many of the kids I met will boomerang back at forth between LyncX and their home school. But for some, LyncX might just be what it takes them to get back on track.