Talking about TAGOS Leadership Academy
Q: What’s with that name?
A: TAGOS stands for Tailoring Academics to Guide our Students.
Q: Where is it?
A: TAGOS has started its first year in leased office space in the former Head Start building at 514 S. Main St., corner of Racine and Main streets. Plans are to move into newly renovated quarters in the old Parker Pen cafeteria at Arrow Park, where about 6,000 square feet is being renovated.
Q: How big is it?
A: TAGOS has about 30 students this year. Plans are to double the size next year and reach a maximum of 120 in the third year. Arrow Park has space to accommodate the expansion.
Q: Is that enough?
A: About 80 students applied to attend this fall, and people still are asking how to get in, said Dean Al Lindau.
Q: How can they allow expelled students in a school?
A: About a third of TAGOS students this semester have been expelled. The state allows charter schools to sidestep the rules to try innovative educational methods. The district’s Truancy Abatement and Transitional Education program, which is not located at a school, also accepts expelled students.
Q: Do all the students have histories of behavioral problems?
A: About 20 percent do, Lindau said, adding: “I see them as really good kids who made a dumb mistake.” As the school grows, Lindau said most students will be those who simply feel out of place in the big schools.
Q: Are these the “dumb kids?”
A: No. “More than 80 percent of our students scored in the proficient and advanced range on their last Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam,” Lindau said. “However, most of them have low academic scores, have had increased behavioral issues and have poor attendance. Also, low self-esteem has played a part for many.
“We firmly believe that the majority of TAGOS Students will leave TAGOS for higher education of some sort.”
Q: Is everyone succeeding?
A: No. Lindau said TAGOS does not appear to be a good fit for some students. He expects to lose a few and then add more from a waiting list before second semester.
High school students wishing to return to Craig or Parker may do so at semester. Middle school students may return anytime during the year. Expelled students who don’t live up to their obligations face returning to expelled status.
Q: What kind of staff does TAGOS have?
A: Lindau is the dean and also a teacher. The other teachers are Jon Woloshin and Julie Waite, who is half-time. All three teachers specialize in students with disabilities. Val Maxon is an instructional aide.
Q: What are plans for the future?
A: TAGOS students will begin training dogs from the Rock County Humane Society after it moves into its permanent quarters. The hope is to make the dogs more adoptable. For the moment, Lindau brings his golden retriever, Lanci, to school each day, and its presence seems to have a calming effect.
TAGOS also is looking for funding to start a culinary arts program.
Q: How was all this funded?
A: Federal charter-school grants help get the school up and running. State aid and property taxes also help, as they do elsewhere. Because TAGOS can take expelled students, that boosts enrollment.
Q: Can I get involved?
A: TAGOS is looking for donations to fund student projects as well as community partners for various efforts. A fund-raiser is being planned for January. Contact Al Lindau at (608) 931-8434.