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Benton Harbor DREAM Academy revived with new vision

WSBT 22 photo

There have been a lot of changes at Benton Harbor Area Schools. New superintendent Bob Herrera is making some more changes in hopes of creating long-term stability.

There has been a lot of activity at the administration building. In his first three weeks, Bob Herrera has helped hire more than 20 people to fill teacher openings.

Herrera is already making plans to move his office to give the administration building a brand new purpose.

The building at 636 Pipestone Street has seen a lot of change. In the last four years, it's been the home of five different top administrators.

Now it's all being boxed-up to make room for a different kind of high school that doesn't look like a high school at all.

"The reasons they choose not to go to a high school is the physical nature of a high school,” said Herrera. “We want to give them a different feel as they come into the building because we’ll be doing business differently as well.”

The halls be the new home of Dream Academy. The school board voted last spring to close the alternative high school option, but Herrera wanted to bring it back with a new vision.

Coordinator Dustin Slivensky is charged with creating that vision in time for the new school year. She's taught in the district for 12 years.

“It’s awesome to be a Tiger,” says Slivensky. “It’s like a really close connection with family, and we all support each other. Yeah we all have our bad moments and good moments, but it’s just amazing to see these kids grow into something that is going to be a profit for themselves in other avenues of their life.”

Instead of creating a school and then helping students succeed in that environment, DREAM academy will adjust the environment for each student by offering a mix of online, in-person, and dual enrollment courses.

“It’s going to be different, but I think once they see the positives for them being at school, the flexibility of the schedule. I think it’s going to be an exciting adventure for this district,” said Slivensky.

The administrative offices will temporarily be moved to the old DREAM Academy building on Union Street.

The long-term plan is to create space for them at the high school.

The Benton Harbor district is planning an open house for DREAM Academy later this month.

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