There are many pre-teen and teenaged girls considered “at-risk” in southwest Florida. And that’s evidenced by a growing waiting list at the region’s only alternative school—established specifically for young women. The non-profit PACE Center for Girls in Immokalee is one of 19 such schools around the state… and it’s described as the only alternative school for at-risk girls between Sarasota and Collier Counties. PACE is non-residential – and only accepts girls between 11 and 18, from the Immokalee area, who are having trouble in traditional public school. Executive Director – Theresa Miller – says PACE has had a waiting list since the day it opened…and the list just keeps growing.
“We’ve bought property and are going to be building a new program. And we’re building to serve 80 girls, and we already have enough people on our waiting list to fill those slots. We need to serve more girls. We need to be able to meet the need…and I know we won’t ever, we’ll always have some more waiting…but we’ve had girls wait for 2 years to get into our program. And you think of their life of chaos, and what happens in 2 years.”
The PACE Center in Immokalee currently serves 40 girls. More than 125 girls have been through its program since 1998. Miller says the school has a 93-percent success rate…and provides 3 years of follow-up with its graduates. PACE recently received a 25-thousand dollar grant from Fifth Third Bank to help build a new library, and fund transportation for students. PACE employs certified teachers, but also relies on volunteers.
Friday, 16 September 2005 01:00