Blog Post

The Threshold Program, an Innovative High School Diploma Program

by | Feb 16, 2021 | Social and Emotional Health

Aaron Churchill talks with three of Maine’s extraordinary educators.  The Threshold Program operates from the MEANS Academy serving some of Maine’s most vulnerable students. In this conversation we hear how a program started to address teen pregnancy expanded to provide opportunity to students for whom life has presented harsh and uncontrolled circumstances.  Emanuel Pariser, Becky Dennison and January discuss how this unique program takes the idea of personalized learning to transform lives through the public education system.  Combining hybrid learning with regular 2-hour in-person and in-home meetings makes it possible for students who might otherwise drop out of school to not only succeed but flourish. If a life is surrounded by addiction, depression or economic crisis day to day, any teacher or district cannot expect a student to learn in the same way other students do.  Distractions such as these play out in academic achievement.  Emanuel describes how making a distinction between “school” and “learning” can inform creative solutions to the need. Listening carefully to the stories of success sheds light on the inequities built into a state assessment system that is focused on efficiency rather than true measures of a successful learner.  Threshold may have additional costs to the district but measure those costs against the long-term costs of adults without high school diplomas and the the efficiency is clear.