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LYNC-ing students back to the classroom through alternative approach

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Though the spelling might be different, the goal of the LYNC Academy, which recently opened in Green Bay, is to help families successfully link non-traditional students back to their home schools.

“Prior to opening LYNC, we conducted research through a series of meetings with school districts to determine what the largest needs they were facing,” Founder Meredith Bieri said. “During the (COVID-19) pandemic, the realization became clearer we needed to create an opportunity to ‘LYNC’ all the necessary supporters in a child’s life. It seemed like the right fit and the right time.”

Crediting the movie “Freedom Writers” as inspiration, Bieri said she tapped into her experience in business and management to create LYNC Academy’s sustainable approach to an alternative education program for struggling students and families. 

“Part of that experience is surrounding myself with individuals who are experts in the field,” she said.

Bieri said the team at LYNC work hand-in-hand with the necessary supporters in a child’s life – school, student, family and community.

“Through these collaborations, we can see changes that will serve the betterment of all stakeholders,” she said.

The LYNC team consists of licensed clinical social workers, special education teachers and administrators. 

Bieri said the drive to help students succeed stems from personal education experience.

“In my early school years, I was part of the gifted and talented program – even skipping 4th grade,” she said. “In my high school years, I again found myself (involved in) alternative education options in an effort to work through some of personal childhood trauma and barriers.”

Principal Matt VanEffen said the LYNC model puts the focus on academic completion and links non-traditional students to resources, opportunities and connections in their communities that will allow them to successfully transition back to their home schools.

VanEffen said the student-to-staff ratio affords the academy the opportunity to provide direct instruction and social teaching that will yield quick results.

LYNC staff delivers curriculum and academics through community experiences with a focus on languages arts, math, science and social studies, as well as supplement areas of focus, including arts, music, commerce for change, shop, PE with community partner YMCA, social impact and volunteer opportunities.

VanEffen said there are currently five students receiving programming/services at LYNC, with the first starting last month.

“We have set our capacity for 16 (students) as we have a focus on delivering positive outcomes to partnering school districts,” he said.

VanEffen said LYNC is already producing positive outcomes.

“For example, a young student was showing behavioral problems in the classroom that were not conducive to learning for peers, and reflective of the overall thematic issues we are continuing to hear about in early education resulting from stretched resources and other impacts of the pandemic,” he said. “After attending our programming for one week, we began to see major improvements in this student’s behaviors and interactions with the staff. The student now understands more concretely what appropriate behaviors in the classroom look like and is beginning to internalize how to seek positive praise and attention.”

Additionally, VanEffen said staff has seen the student grow academically within one-on-one interactions.

“On the student’s first day, they could only recall the first 1-2 letters of their name,” he said. “The student now can identify each letter of their name. We have also seen progress in number identification and in handwriting exercises.”

VanEffen said typically, area school districts contact them directly if they have a potential student they think could possibly benefit from the services and programming at LYNC.

“By that point, most school districts have exhausted all resources to support a student,” he said. “LYNC will then have an intake meeting with the school district and family to discuss how LYNC can support the student. Our excellent and experienced social workers work with students to determine the cause of their struggles in the classroom.”

During this time period, VanEffen said the LYNC academic team supports the student to keep them on track academically while attending LYNC. 

“Our ultimate outcome would be for a student to transition back to their home school in 6-8 weeks,” he said.

Claudia Henrickson, executive director of Student Services for the Green Bay School District, said the LYNC Academy is another helpful resource the district can offer to families whose students might be struggling.

“We do have a student or two, that are already diagnosed with a disability, that could be candidates, since the interruption to learning and the subsequent return to more structured learning, has been very difficult for some of our students on the spectrum, who struggle with change to routines,” she said.  “With the impact COVID has had on our students, LYNC promises to take some of our most dysregulated students for 6-8 weeks and get them back on track with their emotions and anxiety as it relates to being back in a school setting.”

Located at 1015 Main St., Bieri said the location allows LYNC to be a part of the historic Olde Main Street District, and “we hope our successes will lend to the reputation of hard-work in the district.”

To learn more about Green Bay’s LYNC Academy, visit lyncacademy.com.

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