Alternative Learning

The Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education offers four alternative programs for secondary school students under the age of 18 who are struggling with their academic and non-academic needs at their home school.  These programs include: Change, Transformations, Crossroads and New Hope.

These programs share the academic/non-academic responsibility of the student with the home school. Program teachers deliver curriculum for the students’ academic needs using various strategies, such as Differentiated Instruction, Universal Design, small group collaboration, and one to one direct instruction. Credit deficits and maintaining grade appropriate course loads are supported by our program teachers.

The non-academic component is led by our school-based Social Worker and Child & Youth Counsellor. Their role includes addressing the non-academic social and emotional needs that are affecting a student’s academic performance and daily self-management skills.

For all programs a re-entry plan is developed in conjunction with the home school to assist in the transition back to school or a new school.

Both our academic and non- academic initiatives derive themes from our Focus on Faith themes. These include but are not limited to:

  • Community & the Common Good
  • Human Dignity
  • Human Rights & Responsibilities
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Academic Support

  • Credit courses
  • Credit recovery
  • Credit rescue
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Individual Support

  • Individual and group counselling
  • transition and follow-up support
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Parental Support

  • Family Consultation
  • Community Agency Referrals
  • Counselling and Support
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Interpersonal Development

  • Social and Leadership Skills
  • Restorative Justice
  • Social Responsibility
  • Self-Regulation Skills
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Student Development

  • Learning Styles
  • Goal Setting
  • Adaptive to Change
  • Problem Solving
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Career Development

  • Resume Creation
  • Career Exploration
  • Interview Skills

Program Overviews

CHANGE program

C.H.A.N.G.E Program

The focus of the Change program is for Grades 9-10 students who are demonstrating difficulty in their home secondary school, despite supports provided by Teachers, Student Services, the Student Success Teacher, Child & Youth Counsellor and/or Social Worker. Applicants are often experiencing a degree of mental distress that is impacting their ability to chieve academic success.  Students are provided with an alternative approach at the Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education.

  • Students must be willing to participate in academic programming to earn credits towards their OSSD
  • Students must also be willing to engage in non-academic programming related to mental health and well-being
  • Parents and students must agree to enroll in this alternative program
  • Transportation is provided
  • Assuming students make progress in the alt ed program, our intent is for students to return to their home schools within a semester or two.

Transformations Alt Learning

Transformations Alternative Learning

The Transformation program is an extension of the Change program, offered to Grades 11 and 12 students. In order for a student to enroll, he/she will:

  • be willing to participate in academic programming to earn credits towards their OSSD
  • engage in non-academic programming related to mental health
  • demonstrate an expressed desire to attend
  • Provide their own transportation (however, transportation accommodation will be considered in some cases.

Individuals who have been approved by the Supervised Alternative Learning Committee will also be considered.

The intent of the program is to help students with academic and non-academic supports to the point where they feel comfortable returning to their home school within a semester or two.

Students may return to their home school for graduation, or they may graduate from the Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education.



This voluntary program is geared towards students who have been expelled. The focus of this program is on academic and non-academic components. In many cases students, will return to their home school with a detailed re-entry plan, after the expulsion has been served. This will involve conferences with administrators, Student Services, Social Workers, and/or Child & Youth Counsellors to develop a re-entry plan.

  • Students must provide their own transportation

New Hope

New Hope

This voluntary program supports students who have been suspended as follows:

  • 6 – 10 days; academic based with some discussion of non-academic issues
  • 11 – 20 days; academic and non-academic concerns are addressed

The goal of the New Hope program is to support the classroom teacher with academic instruction as the student returns to the home school, after the suspension has been completed. Classroom teachers play a vital role in the process, as they remain involved with providing and evaluating work.

  • Students must provide their own transportation

Admission to Program

  • referral from home secondary school Principal and/or Vice-Principal
  • the alternative education team will review and assess application for fit and readiness
  • student/parent program commitment
  • admission intake meeting
  • development of student success plan (academic and non-academic)

Program Staff

  • qualified teacher(s)
  • special education resource teacher
  • social worker
  • child and youth counselor
  • supervising vice principal