Fall 2019


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Dr. Kelly Killorn-Moravec

Content Expert

Benjamin Peake


Many high-risk students struggle in education and find it difficult to be successful in mainstream educational settings. Alternative educational programs (AEP) are used as an intervention for students who are struggling in the mainstream setting and are at risk for failure. Students in AEP programs have an opportunity to overcome their barriers and achieve graduation as opposed to dropping out or getting their general education diploma (GED). Many of the students in these programs struggle with adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and have had negative educational experiences. This capstone project addresses the research question: How to improve high-risk high school achievement and well-being through using best practices, particularly in an alternative setting? The professional development plan for this project uses Malcolm Knowles’ andragogy theory about adult learners that supports understanding who students are, and strategies to promote learning. Through professional development presentations, teachers engaged in activities on building relationships, strategies, and approaches to understand high-risk students and a slide-show presentation that covers the diversity of our students, teacher practice to support positive student outcomes, personalizing student education through constructivist classrooms and understanding students social-emotional learning. The literature reviewed in this project supports the idea that when students are connected to teachers and staff at their school they do better academically and their overall well-being improves. Through the implementation of this project, the strategies and approaches have supported educators by helping them make connections with their students which had an impact on the improvement of student grades, attendance, and overall well-being. This project was important in developing teacher/student relationships as a way to understand students’ individual learning needs and has made a positive impact on the students new to the AEP in this district. As a former high-risk student, this project was importance to me as an educator and has allowed me the opportunity to pass on what I have learned to my colleagues as well as all the teachers in the district. This project has supported my professional growth as an educator and has reinforced the importance of building relationships with high-risk students: it takes effort, patience, and time to connect to your students, but when you do, you can make the difference in a student’s life.

Project Type

Professional Development


Achievement, At-risk Students, Classroom Management, Grades/ Student Performance, Motivation, Staff Development, Teachers/ Teaching, Alternative Educational Programs








School of Education Student Capstone Projects

Included in

Education Commons