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Student Spotlight on Creativity, Challenge and Caring

“For creative-minded people, it is easier to learn at CSCS.”

Independent, creative, stubborn, and determined, a conversation with Emmy leaves you curious to hear more. Her laughter helps guide you to her favorite lunch spot at the end of the hallway where she is camped out with friends, scheming, analyzing or simply doubled over in giggles. Clark Street is the community that Emmy knew she was destined to join ever since her 6th grade math teacher told her about the school.

Annoyed by the traditional education system already, the excitement of attending a school that would give her more freedom in her learning and allow her to bypass the standard English/Science/Social Studies/Math classes, pushed her through the tedium of her last two years of middle school.

“If you are coming here because it’s easier, it’s not.”

Emmy estimates that she would be a B student at Middleton High School. Not great, but good enough to survive and graduate after four years.

At CSCS she finds herself diving into classes and getting work done because interesting seminar topics make the challenges of learning more exciting. Rather than just memorizing formulas, teachers expect students to understand the reasoning, pushing Emmy not just over the hump of completing work, but giving her knowledge she is able to retain. Yet, Emmy still says that she only does the work that she wants to do, there are just always topics that interest her so she gets everything done!

However, Emmy soon learned that her teachers were not going to let her get away just sailing along without some personal growth. While Emmy can carry on a conversation for hours, you will rarely hear her share much about herself and any efforts to inquire about her emotions are quickly deflected with humor. It took two teachers some direct and constant prodding, but eventually Emmy begrudgingly wrote a paper about emotions. To date it is one of her proudest moments, receiving that paper back with the rubric marked as Exemplary.

“People here are keen to help each other.”

Emmy describes CSCS as a relaxed, welcoming, socially conscious place with a close knit community. She took a couple MHS classes as a CSCS student and while they were okay, they also heightened the contrast between the cultures in each building. She attributes this largely to the Restorative Practices approach to discipline, which she views as “more fair,” as well as the connections between staff and students.

As Emmy thinks about her willingness to try new experiences and overcome challenges, she believes that the relationships she has with her teachers is the most significant contributor to her success. While Emmy views herself as an independent learner (and prefers to work that way), teachers proactively offer help throughout class, creating the space for Emmy to ask questions when she is too stubborn to initiate the conversation.

“I’m still figuring out how to ‘Clark Street.’”

Emmy feels like she now lives in a state of, “I know but I don’t know,” and that’s okay. She had many interests before coming to CSCS, but took a seminar around video editing and discovered a new passion that she wants to pursue further.

She always knew that she preferred to work independently, but as she considers career options she is also looking for jobs that allow her to work from home and/or with a smaller community of people.

She understood that learning was hard when she wasn’t interested in the topic, but now realizes that an interesting topic can push her to learn more than she ever thought possible.

She knew that in theory, teachers don’t live at school, but found that they are far more relatable when they are willing to share their own real stories of success and failure.

“CSCS is not full of potheads and failures!”

Emmy almost didn’t get to attend CSCS because community members told her parents that it was full of potheads and students who couldn’t make it in traditional school. Emmy didn’t care, but also found out it isn’t true. She sees Clark Street as a place where creative students thrive, and teachers understand the importance of building personal connections. There is always something interesting to learn and daily Emmy immediately feel a sense of comfort walking through the front doors everyday.


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2429 Clark St, Middleton, WI 53562, USA

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