In September 2003, a new education program was established in Redwood County.
More than a decade later, the Belview Learning Center has seen its program grow and continue to experience success.
According to Susie Terhaar, site coordinator for the Belview Learning Center (BLC), the program was initially opened as a Setting IV day treatment program and was established under the um-brella of the Redwood County Collaborative.
The collaborative provided the startup funds and oversight of the program, which opened its doors to school districts across the region.
“On that first day of classes, seven students were enrolled from seven different area school districts and five different counties,” explained Terhaar.
The first staff included five members filling different roles.
The center was initially established to work with students who were receiving special education services and also needed mental health services.
The staff not only included educators but counselors, therapists and mental health practitioners. The center allowed students who required those added services to receive them closer to home. Before 2003 getting those services required students to travel some distance or to be placed out of their home.
Now they are able to go to school and still be at home.
The center, which is located in the former Belview school building, looks like any other small town school, said Terhaar, adding there is enough space for students who may be struggling to take a break in a safe, controlled environment.
In addition to getting instruction in those core subject areas just like other students, those enrolled at the Belview Learning Center also have time scheduled for therapy, which allows students to process feelings and behaviors. Students also receive social skills education.
Students do not open enroll to the center but are referred to the school by either their resident school district or in cooperation with the resident county’s human services department.
There are currently 24 students enrolled in the program, and those students come from 11 different school districts.
What started out as a program for students of middle school and high school age is now open to students K-12.
Today there are 17 staff members serving the school’s students. The program is currently operated by the South-west/West Central Service Co-operative in Marshall.
“I believe BLC has been successful over the years, because we have evolved to serve the needs of the students and area school districts,” said Terhaar.
The program continues to evolve to meet those needs.
Terhaar said the Belview community has been very supportive of the education program from the beginning.
Not all students learn the same way, and the Belview Learning Center is helping area students see success in ways they may not have experienced in a more traditional setting.