Northwest Alternative High School provides an academic experience as close to the
mainstream as possible. The concept being, although disadvantaged for one reason or
another, these students too deserve as quality of an education as is possible. Classroom
lectures, special course projects, field trips, and regular social opportunities are all a part of
the learning experience provided by the school. NWAHS works closely with the regular high
school and benefits from this relationship by being on the same daily class schedule allowing for
sharing of cafeteria and bussing services. The connectedness with the regular high school also
allows our students to be enrolled in Jackson Area Career Center, an option very attractive to
our particular population. Students are also allowed to participate in dances and other various
Northwest Alternative has been in existence since 1987. One of Michigan’s longest standing
Alternative Educational programs, NWAHS boasts a strong academic program, a normalized
approach to working with “at risk” students and a warm and friendly client-based approach to
The school works diligently on behavior and attitude with the focus persistently on individuals
assuming responsibility for their own behavior. Despite our behavioral concerns, the school’s
primary focus is helping students acquire the necessary credits for graduation.
All five instructors are certified by the state of Michigan and are considered, “Highly Qualified”
in their area of expertise. The school is a member of the Michigan Alternative Educational
Organization and the Michigan Alternative Athletic Association. Our newest addition (2013-
2014) to the staff is a full time Special Education instructor who works with the rest of team on
meeting the specific learning needs for our diverse population.
Northwest Alternative's success is attributed to a caring learning atmosphere. Self confidence is weaved
into the school's regular activities as individual student accomplishment and personal achievements are
acknowledged on a regular basis. Academic, attendance and citizenship incentives are meshed with
a proactive approach to daily problem solving. Both attributes lend themselves to a healthy learning
environment for students who struggle with today's complex societal barriers.
Weekly grades are posted on teacher's door for vital tangible feedback for student efforts. Work credits
are offered to reward the student who must work while attending school.
Community service is a commencement ceremony prerequisite and serves to introduce students to the
tremendous need our society has for the valuable assets they possess as individuals who are also faced
with overcoming adversity.
While helping nearly five hundred individual students graduate in the past fifteen years, the school also
boasts quality in their academic standards. Leading the way for the Alternative schools in Jackson
County for percentage of four year graduates, NWAE also points to annually increasing their composite
NWAHS second shift program offers diversity in services for students transferring from other districts, or
involved in other difficult living situations or for students needing to further demonstrate their commitment
to learning. The electronically delivered curriculum also widens course work offerings for students with
diverse interests and/or needs.
NWAHS also has had a basketball team for thirteen of the last fourteen years and prides
themselves in their success as a member of the MAAA (Michigan Alternative Athletic
Association). After missing the 2012-2013 season due to lack of commitment from the players,
the 2013-2014 team took the runner up trophy home from the state tournament. This marks
the school’s third runner up finish going along with the school’s five state titles. The team
finished out of the final four in the season ending state tournament only twice.
Serving Our Changing Society
Social issues continue to become more complex in our culture and as a result, family support from the
schools is needed more than ever. Alterative Education is one of the ways our district is addressing
this growing need. Providing a nurturing environment whenever possible at the school is our attempt to
help students with the issues they face in today's world. Intake interviews begin a process of assisting
families and students in developing a more responsible approach toward learning. This is our response to
a belief that family involvement is critical to a student's academic success. The more success a student
experiences, the better the family feels about their role with their child. Almost 430 family visits to our
school last year demonstrate the success we are having with developing this teaming with families
approach to education. Northwest believes that children are our most precious commodity.
At the Alternative school this commodity is nurtured with a variety of incentives for responsible behavior.
Academic success, attendance, and citizenship accomplishments are all recognized and regularly
rewarded. Extracurricular activities are weaved into the program to encourage the marginal student's
interest in the learning process. School breakfasts, Thanksgiving and Christmas activities, field trips
and a school basketball team help us create what has become a warm and productive environment for
students. Credits are earned twice as often as the traditional setting to provide students and families
with more frequent feedback on academic performances and as result more hope is developed toward
accomplishing the goal of graduation. Work credits are offered to reward the student who must work while
attending school. Community service efforts are rewarded to introduce students to the tremendous need
our society has for the valuable assets they possess as students who often overcome overwhelming
adversity. Thirty one different special education students benefited from our program this year while other
students were dually enrolled at the Jackson Area Career Center.