“We serve students who, for whatever reason in their life, are not able to be served on a comprehensive campus whether it’s for an emotional, psychological or medical reason,” PUSD Prospect Education Center Director Dawn Crater said. “Sometimes, they are here for a temporary time or we are serving them throughout their entire education. If you look at our students here, they look like any other students on any campus. For us, it’s about providing a comfortable and stable environment here.”
The PEC focuses on lower class sizes than the district’s average in order to aid students who may be dealing with anxiety. The center also helps students who are part of the district’s “Home and Hospital” program for those who are temporarily unable to attend school due to surgery or recovering from an accident. The goal of the PEC is to help maintain the educational progress for students while they are away from their regular campus and keep their reading and math skills moving forward to make the transition as easy as possible.
“We find that if we have a student dealing with a more chronic health issue, we try to see if that student can make a transition to a comprehensive campus or to an on-site program,” Crater said. “In many cases, we worry about the students with chronic conditions who are unable to socialize with their peers. We want to help them be able to socialize with others as adults. You don’t want to lump all the students here into one group because each student comes with his or her own individual story.”
The center features a child-care center that is available to any teenage parent in the district. However, they must utilize the final period in their class schedule at the PEC for a child development class in order to use this service.
The Prospect Education Center has many success stories of students who go on to contribute in the local community. The focus of the PEC staff is to help students focus on the transition into the real world.
“We have a former student who is currently an elementary school teacher for the district and a current officer for the Porterville police department,” Crater said. “We have former students working for the Porterville Developmental Center, Department of Corrections and Sierra View Hospital. While not every student may go on to a career like them, at the very least, we want to be able to have these students live successfully on their own.”