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Alternative class gives new direction, hope for troubled teens

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Certain tools of a trade seem to be making a difference in the lives of some troubled Nashville teens.

At the Alternative Learning Center, building something as simple as a table is helping students with challenges get back on the right track.

Dr. Lauren Rickey leads the creative project, and her class is always full. The teens in her class were forced to leave standard high schools for discipline reasons.

"[I asked] 'Why do you want to be in this class?' And the kids said, 'I get to feel something, and I get to learn and make something. And I have evidence that I learned," Rickey said.

The evidence is right there in bright, freshly painted colors. Some of the finished work will be offered to recent Nashville flood victims still in need of some help.

But mostly the help is for the teens understanding the importance of directions and planning, and then executing a plan.

"I'm experienced with painting, so I know quite a bit," said student Devin Martin.

Martin is learning about work ethic.

"If I had a job with painting, and my boss tells me to do a job, I want it to look nice," Martin said.

In a way, everything in this class is a work in progress, the people and the wood.

"When I was in high school, I was in the band. I got to see myself do something every Friday. I played sports, and I got to see myself do something for sports," Rickey said. "Our children here are not in band, and they're not in sports. But they can see a table they made and turn around and give it to someone and feel good about that."

They hope that this is a step in the right direction.

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