SOUL offers alternative education for at-risk students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno EOC's School of Unlimited Learning or SOUL is an option for students looking for an alternative to the traditional public high school.

The program offers an opportunity for those that may be struggling in the traditional high school setting.

"If you're looking for a smaller environment and you or your child isn't comfortable with 2,000 students on one campus, and there are specific needs you're working through, then this is the place for you because you can get your high school diploma," said Principal Mark Wilson.

Operated by Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission and chartered through Fresno Unified School District, the school provides both classroom-based and independent study programs depending on the student's needs.

"The independent study students are there because they have responsibilities that prevent them from coming in every day, some are parents, some work full-time, some have health issues," Wilson explained.

Isaiah Ayala is a senior at SOUL who first learned of the program while staying at Fresno EOC's youth shelter.

"I was in the shelter next door, and they were talking about a school that was just nearby," Ayala said. "When I first came in, I was failing a lot of my classes, but I just grew more as a person. I've been straight A's for two years in a row."

In addition to his studies, Isaiah works part-time and is president of the interact club, organizing volunteer efforts for his fellow students. He'll graduate in a few months and hopes to pursue a career as an electrician.

"Just the sense of connectivity, they're always at your side, just when you need someone to talk to, and that's what got to me more cause I never had that at a normal school," he said.

SOUL also provides its students with case managers, mental health services, childcare, and unique employment training opportunities, including hands-on learning for those interested in the building trades.

Roughly 200 students attend soul, with over 75 percent going on to a secondary setting. If you're interested in learning more about SOUL visit their website.
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