Joyce Price founded the Student Referral Alternative Center in 1993, the first program of its kind in Louisiana, to offer suspended or expelled students of Caddo Parish a safe, supervised, educational environment. Students in Louisiana and in Caddo Parish were sent home on suspension before the inception of this program. The Student Referral Alternative Center provides a safe, supervised, academic environment for suspended students. Truancy, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime during school hours have been reduced as a result of the services provided through this program.
Price made contacts, networked with other organizations, and worked with the Department of Education, local school board staff, and community leaders to rally support for the implementation of this new concept. In 1993, she worked with Church Based Tutoring Staff to design the much-needed program. In 1995, she submitted a proposal to the Department of Education to make the Center an approved Alternative School. The proposal was subsequently approved, and has been re-approved each year since 1995.
The Student Referral Center now has an extensive ACTV lab, an interactive system that reinforces Reading and Math skills and adapts to the student’s individual learning style. The staff receives frequent visits and calls from other parishes, cities, and states to view the program. Although Price has achieved the desired results, she feels that there is more than can be done. Thus, she meets frequently with lawmakers, parents, school board members and other to continue to dialogue concerning changes to provide quality services for at-risk students.
Price designed a mentoring component, Touch of Prevention, program in 1997. The program operated successfully for one year, however, due to lack of funding was unable to continue. She still, however, continues to mentor at J.S. Clark Middle School and encourages the community to do the same. On evenings and weekends, she conducts workshops and speaking engagements for the community. In her ongoing quest to reach at-risk youth, she recently attended a daylong workshop in Dallas, Texas on conflict resolution.
Although Price has faced many obstacles in pursuing the establishment and continued operation of the Center, she approaches her task with care, commitment, concern, and respect and students respond positively to her approach. Through her work at the Center, more than 5,000 students have been impacted.