By Amy Bounds Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 09/26/2010 10:53:06 PM MDT
Karla Zarate plays with her-15 month-old daughter in the nursery at the Arapahoe Ridge campus in Boulder on Wednesday. The Boulder Valley School District s teen parenting program moved this fall from Fairview High School to a new facility at Arapahoe Ridge. ( Cameron Redwine )
Babies and toddlers are now part of the high school scene at Boulder's Arapahoe Campus.
A four-room nursery was built at the school this summer as part of a remodeling project, allowing the Boulder Valley School District to move its teen parenting program to the school in the fall.
The move also opened up more spots in the program, which previously was located at Boulder's Fairview High. The program can take as many as 40 babies and toddlers, from 3 weeks to 3 years old. At Fairview, there was only room for 29 babies, which often meant there was a waiting list.
Arapahoe Campus Principal Joan Bludorn said the program was designed with one goal -- to make it as easy as possible for teen moms -- and the occasional dad -- to continue their education.
"The goal is to graduate, to get the diploma," she said.
Along with more space, she said, another advantage to locating the program at the Arapahoe campus is the on-site Options Academy. The credit retrieval program, taught by highly qualified teachers, allows students to quickly make up missed credits without retaking entire classes.
The program is especially useful for teen moms, who often must miss classes to care for sick babies or are pulled out of class to breastfeed, Bludorn said.
The Arapahoe Campus also houses the district's Arapahoe Ridge High School and the district's vocational program. Students in the teen parenting program take a vocational class on early childhood education, learning to be good parents and also receiving college credit they can use if they decide to pursue a degree in early childhood.
The teen parenting program originally was housed at a Boulder elementary school when it started in 1980, moving to Fairview in 1987. But few of the students in the program lived in Fairview's attendance area, instead coming mainly from east county.
A couple of years ago, the district decided to move to the Arapahoe campus, centrally located at 6600 Arapahoe Road.
The new nursery was built using money from the $296.8 million bond project, which voters approved in 2006 to upgrade schools and facilities across the district. The campus also got a new student common area and a seven-classroom expansion as part of its $6.9 million project.
In the teen parent program, a student can start as soon as she finds out she's pregnant. The district also provides transportation, picking the students up at their homes. Once at school, an academic tutor is available to help the students. There's also a $2,000 "emergency" fund to help with needs like an outfit for a job interview.
The 10 staff members who work in the nursery, which is licensed by the state, must meet early childhood teacher qualifications. Most have college degrees in early childhood education.
Reviews of the new location from the students generally have been positive.
"They feel very welcome here," said parent program director Wendy Pearson.
Sonya Rodriguez, who lives in Lafayette, said she likes the Options Academy because it allows her to make up credits more quickly. She also likes having a new nursery for her 11/2-year-old daughter.
"Now that we're here, it's better," said Rodriguez, 17. "We're not in the basement at Fairview any more."
Unlike Fairview, which wasn't designed to house a child care center, the nursery at Arapahoe Campus has spacious rooms with lots of windows and access to a toddler-safe playground. The nursery also has a security system, with the school planning to start key fobs for entrance as a safety measure.
Seventeen-year-old Tatiana Padilla, whose daughter is 15 months old, moved to Denver but continues to come to Boulder for the teen parenting program. After attending at Fairview, she said she liked the school, but prefers the new nursery at the Arapahoe campus.
She said her daughter is her motivation to continue with school.
"I just look at my daughter every day and say, 'all right, I'll get up and go to school,'" she said
Read more: Boulder Valley teen parenting program gets new home - Boulder Daily Camera http://www.dailycamera.com/news/ci_16182428#ixzz10qj1vCB4