Northshore Magazine

Northshore September 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 184 of 272

178 | SEPTEMBER 2015 in-depth PLACES tion," mall manager Mark Whiting told the assembled students and their families. Founded in 2010, the Peabody Learning Academy (PLA) is an alternative program for Peabody students who just aren't comfort- able in a traditional high school setting. The Academy is one of 22 such programs across the country sponsored by the Simon Youth Foundation, the charitable arm of mall-management company Simon Property Group. Like PLA, most of these academies are situated within malls. These programs were born from the basic observation that at-risk Positive messaging is a PLA goal. Below, J. Michael Durnil photograph by Joe Ferraro (top) courtesy of Peabody Learning Academy (bottom) students—the ones skipping school and neglecting their homework— are often found at the mall instead of poring over books, explains J. Mi- chael Durnil, president and CEO of the foundation. It just made sense, therefore, to try to reach these students in a place where they are already comfortable—emotionally, physically, and socially. The Academy serves students who have attended Peabody High School for at least a year. They are often referred by teachers and administra- tors, though parents occasionally seek out the school on their own. Students may have learning impediments or health issues. They

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