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Mattie V. Rutherford Middle School
Alternative Education Center

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Mattie V. Rutherford Middle School Alternative Education Center

Mattie V. Rutherford Middle School Alternative Education Center, located in Jacksonville, is a short term disciplinary program serving those students who have committed a serious violation of the Code of Student Conduct. The students are required to attend Mattie V. Rutherford for at least 45 days. "The faculty and staff are committed to guiding students toward academic excellence and to modifying inappropriate behavior as the students strive to meet their potential with confidence," said Principal Kenneth Reddick.

Since 1999, Mattie V. has undergone a significant "make-over", moving forward to its current status as a highly structured, standards-based program. The theme for this resurgence, "The Renaissance – A New Beginning", is certainly indicative of the exciting changes that have taken place.

During the current school year there have been a variety of upgrades to the 100-year-old facility that is located in one of the oldest historical districts Jacksonville. Painting, landscaping, fencing, flooring, carpeting and a few pieces of new furniture have created a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment. The formation of in-class libraries has been enhanced and efforts are underway to obtain books for grade-level teams and a school-wide library.

"Although we are very proud of all of the physical changes that have taken place perhaps the most significant part of the "Renaissance" has to do with the strengthening of the curriculum and the move to a Sunshine State Standards-based operation," said Reddick. A highly dedicated, caring staff meets each week to learn about the implementation of Sunshine State Standards, and the addition of a standards coach has provided in-house expertise rendering to the faculty both consultation and training. The focus has expanded to place more emphasis on the academic performance of the students.

"It is gratifying to visit a classroom and see the word wall and student work and commentaries," said Reddick. "Students are able to discuss with you what standard they are working on and why it is an important part of their education, and they are engaged in the business of learning. You can feel it in the atmosphere."

Each week, grade-level team teachers select a Student of the Week. These students receive recognition and a tee-shirt with the school creed "I AM SOMEBODY" emblazed on it. This presentation takes place during the Friday "exit ceremony" which is the completion of the students' program. Recognition also comes in the form of certificates for compliance with the dress code, attendance, academic performance, behavioral progress and positive behavior, a Student Creed Award for the students who best exemplify the creed and a Principal's Award for those exiting students who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments.

With the Principal's Award comes a $50 savings bond in recognition of the progress that the student has made in his or her 45-day stay. Many parents and students express their hesitation to leave Mattie V Rutherford and return to their home schools. The cooperative learning endeavors give students quality educational experiences they will never forget.