They will welcome students who are 14-18 years old, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, who are chemical free and have a desire to learn. The students who come here all find Life Prep in a different way, and they all have a different story. They might be referred here by a social worker, or a probation officer, or a church; and some of them find the school themselves.
“The kids we take, they have to come here by choice. We aren’t taking kids kicking and screaming,” says school director Pam Wolf Sladek.
The youth who will be coming here will study all the subjects required for a high school education, but they will also learn about cooking, sewing, laundry, driving a car, and getting job – everything they will need to be successful and independent once they graduate.
“The beauty of the program is, there’s a lot of flexibility. We are very integrated with their independent living, their job skills, as well as their core skills and everything needed for a diploma.”
The school work happens on the main floor of the building, and upstairs there are shared bedrooms, work areas, and some places to relax. They are anticipating having six students by the end of March, and 16 by summer time.
No one working at Life Prep Academy is currently earning a salary, and nearly every item in the building has been a gift.
“It’s all donated. When we started the school we figured about a $75,000 for start up costs, and we ended up spending about $3,000 because everything was donated.”
Pam has been thinking and dreaming of a school like this for decades, and now she sees how many experiences in her life have led her here.
“It’s a calling. It’s been a vision. I believe God put it on my heart years ago, and all the thigns that have happened in my life with teaching and the various things I’ve done, I think all came into play.”
Life Prep Academy is looking for volunteers and donations. They will accept furniture, clothes, dishes, and more. They also welcome donations of meals, or groups to come and cook meals. They also need community members who are willing to help the students get their behind the wheel hours in so they can earn their driver’s license. In fact, Pam says if you want to help, they will find a role for you.