Pathfinder is a flexible setting that is willing to work with each individual student’s interests to create opportunities for the students to be successful.
- Students are able to graduate from High School.
- Students feel comfortable in their learning.
- Give students individual skill sets to help them achieve success after High School.
- Show students the different paths they can follow after High School.
- Give students the opportunity to work with Community Members to gain lifelong connections.
Recognizing passions, using them to fuel schoolwork
Work Study Electives
Authentic Credit Engagement
Small Class Sizes
Personalized Learning Experience
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, and we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on, maybe what matters is that we embark.” – Barbara Hall
How We Got Started
In my 5 years of teaching high school special education, I was noticing a growing trend with the population of students in my classroom on a daily basis. Yes, I had my regular caseload of students, but there was another set of students that found their way into my room whether by choice or by a suggestion from a teacher. These students were absolutely brilliant, and the classroom setting was not the place that they were able to best showcase their talents.
In forming strong relationships with these students, we were able to gain that respect for each other and they were able to complete the classwork that their peers were completing in the other classrooms.
Our superintendent, Mr. Cochart, saw the amount of frustration that I had because I knew these students could do it with a bit of tough love.
He, along with the support of the school board, decided to repurpose the former Harbor Credit Union in downtown Algoma and give it to me to create something for these students. With a bit of demolition and the right staff in place to run the school, Pathfinder was created.
The progress is deep rooted in each student. Their perceptions of school change, attendance goes up, and their willingness to participate in class and discussions increases greatly. Students at Pathfinder come from a wide variety of backgrounds and each has individual talents. A large change that can be seen in each student is their acceptance of others that are different from them and learning to accept that everyone has varying viewpoints.
Rodney Harnois, Senior
Pathfinder has offered me a degree of freedom within my education that I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise. Now that said, that isn’t always the best thing, but given my attitude towards education, that being one of passive learning, it turned out fine for me. The freedom comes from the elective credits you can get, either from working a job or a particular project, like podcasting, could earn you some of the required extra credits. Outside of this it’s fairly dry. but that is to be expected.
Before enrolling at Pathfinder, I was falling behind in school and was not well mentally. Through introspection and the quicker credits, both issues have been relatively solved.
Cameron Sherman, Senior
Before attending Pathfinder, I had struggled with staying out of trouble and focusing on my education. I was easily influenced by the people I chose to associate myself with. The first day at Pathfinder was the start of something new, something I was missing. I was able to be myself and interact with people I enjoyed being around. Even though I’ve had ups and downs since then, Ms. Horn and Mr. Ball have always had faith and believed in me. I wouldn’t be able to say I’m a graduate if it wasn’t for Pathfinder. Words can’t describe how thankful I am for this place.
Katie Horn, Special Education Director/Creator of Pathfinder
Students define my role to be “the Dumbledore of Pathfinder.” What I like to think I do is help kids find their purpose and passion in life. Everyone has their own story. Some days I am a mother-figure, some days I am a mentor, some days I am a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen, some days I give tough love and try to steer the kids in the right direction. My “why” is helping kids to see themselves and their potential for who they truly are, and not how others view them to be. My heart really belongs to the students who need an alternative learning location in order to be successful. So often, we have students come in with a load of baggage and not know how to unpack it. I enjoy watching the kids grow and flourish over the years, changing for the better, and ultimately have them set up for success when they leave school.
Alexis Gauger, Pathfinder Teacher
Hello! My name is Alexis Gauger or otherwise known by my students as Ms. G! I am the teacher for Pathfinder Academy and this is currently my 3rd year teaching at Pathfinder. I have an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Law Enforcement plus I have my teaching license in Special Education. I have two beautiful children, Jazzy and Jayden. I love being creative in my teaching and making sure that the students can be as successful as possible. I love watching football and basketball, cooking, bingeing Netflix, and reading.