Improving Learning for Pregnant and Parenting Teens

A Focal Point for Help

Longfellow High School in Minneapolis offers an alternative school program to pregnant and parenting teens.

“These are girls who have been pushed out of traditional school settings for a variety of reasons,” says Alexandra Spirov. She’s an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving as a “Check and Connect Monitor” in the school who helps students connect to the wide variety of resources available to them.

There are therapists, counselors, and childcare options—in addition to an alternative learning approach that gives students a lot more one-on-one attention in learning.

“We’re a focal point for these girls to get them to the right resources,” Alexandra says. “Ultimately, we’re trying to help them stay in school and graduate.”

Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 11.24.33 AM
Leah Bentfield and Alexandra Spirov.

A Support Network

Alexandra and Leah Bentfield are two Check and Connect Monitors at Longfellow who are serving with the AmericCorps Promise Fellow program.

They’re placed by the Minnesota Alliance With Youth and their service is highlighted and amplified by a GradNation State Activation grant from Pearson and America’s Promise Alliance.

“We help these students with a wide range of things from attendance, behavior, as well as academics,” Leah says. “We’re a part of so much more than just what happens inside school.”

A 180-Degree Turn

“I worked with a young woman last year who was so discouraged with her classes,” Leah recalls. “She said she just wanted to graduate and move on with her life.”

“Several of us worked with her to find her passion, which happened to be in learning and higher education,” she says.

For the first time, Leah says, this young woman was looking to her future.

“She chose to stay in school,” Leah says, “and her new goal is to get a PhD—part of a new plan to move well beyond high school.”

“Her 180-degree turn was amazing,” she says.

“I feel like this is the real-est job I’ll ever have in my life,” Leah says. “These students teach me a lot more than I could ever teach them.”

Not Just a Job

Leah and Alexandra maintain a Facebook page for young women they know who have graduated Longfellow.

“We’re still connected,” Leah says. “We love to see where they’re going.”

Alex says the experience has given her a new appreciation for an alternative approach learning.

“It gives students a voice, it helps them find the learning support they need,” she says. “Alternative education really works.”

This school year is the last year Alex and Leah will be an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow. Their next career steps are uncertain.

“I feel like this is the real-est job I’ll ever have in my life,” she says. “These students teach me a lot more than I could ever teach them.”