2004 Crystal Star Award Recipients

2004 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

Academic Alternatives: Putnam County Dropout Prevention Program
Putnam County District Schools, Palatka, Florida

The Academic Alternatives program is multifaceted. The Academic Recovery Program provides students who are three or more credits behind an opportunity to exceed the normal six credits earned per academic year. The Foundations Program allows students who are 16 and in 7th, 8th, or 9th grade to enter a pre-GED Exit Program. After-School Opportunity—Grade Forgiveness is offered at each high school by the Adult Education Department. The Unified Youth Services program is offered at each high school for 25 students who have two or more barriers to graduating from high school. Four special diplomas are offered by the district for students with disabilities. Other opportunities include: The Gateway Alternative School, the Flex Project for 8th grade at-risk students, and a program for at-risk students in the 3rd grade. The graduation rate in Putnam County has risen from 49.51% in 1995 to 79.5% in 2003. The dropout rate has gone from being the highest in the state at 7.93% in 1995 to one of the lowest at 1.5%.


State of Delaware Justice of the Peace Truancy Court Program
Dover, Delaware

The State of Delaware Justice of the Peace Truancy Court Program was established in 1996 in one county, and was expanded to a statewide program in 1998. Truancy Court successfully combats truancy by pairing community health and social service resources with intensive court oversight to strengthen families, improve school attendance, and prevent juvenile delinquency. The target population is children ages 5 to 15 and their parents or guardians who are prosecuted under state law by their local school districts for failure to attend/send to school. Parents, as well as students, are required to participate in a family assessment at the start of a case and to follow through with mandated treatment or programs. In addition, other children in the family take part in the family assessment as it frequently provides an opportunity to identify and address problems and, thus, prevent future truancy and other problems. During the 2001-02 school year, approximately 80% of the cases that were prosecuted and completed during that year reached compliance. Among those who reached compliance, 95% completed the school year with regular attendance. Students under 12 had a more dramatic success rate of 100% for the 2001-2002 school year. Prior to the start of the specialized Truancy Court the average number of days of unexcused absences at the time of filing was more than 43. By the end of Truancy Court’s first year in operation, the average number of days of unexcused absences was down to 37.4, and in 2002-2003 unexcused absences dropped to 26.1 days.


Street School, Inc.
Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Street School, Inc., began in 1972 as a community volunteer effort to meet the needs of teenagers who had dropped out of school and were just “hanging out on the streets.” Street School, Inc., is a private, non-profit alternative education and counseling program whose mission is to create a supportive community for students who have chosen to continue their education in a non-traditional setting. Students meet regularly with six full-time counselors on staff for individual and group psychotherapy. Academic and elective classes are offered to help students complete the requirements leading to a high school diploma. Street School also offers a variety of school-sponsored activities such as: Key Club, HIV Peer Training, and Academic Bowl, Leadership, Drug and Alcohol Information, Pregnancy Prevention, Skills Building/Problem Solving. Success indicators include: an increase in grade point averages by more than one full letter grade, absenteeism improved by 49.5%, the dropout rate is 3.1% compared to the state average of 10.8%, and the graduation rate is 73.5% compared to the state average of 70.8%. Three-year follow-up surveys found that 87% of students completed their high school education, 31% of all graduates continued their education, and 73% obtained full-time employment.


Honorable Mention Programs

Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School
Englewood Schools, Englewood, Colorado

Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School was named by its students 24 years ago. It has a day school and a night school which serve approximately 600 students. The school is based on a point system where students earn points for attending school and completing the assigned work in a high quality manner. There are no grades and no homework. Each student is assigned a family teacher upon entrance who stays the same throughout the student’s school career. In addition to the traditional curriculum, students have the opportunity to participate in Area Career and Technical Schools (ACTS) and Post Secondary Education Options (PSEO). Last year, students’ ACT scores were higher than the district’s traditional high school’s scores. Approximately 90 students graduate every year.

The Renaissance II Education Resource Center at Washington Square Mall
Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Indianapolis, Indiana

The Renaissance II Education Resource Center (ERC) is a three-way partnership including the Simon Youth Foundation, Washington Square Mall, and the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township. The ERC is the first such facility in Indiana and only the third mall-based school in the nation during its initial year of operation 2000-2001. The ERC has a shortened school day, compact periods, low pupil-teacher ration, individualized instruction, self-paced competency-based instruction, and open hours. Most Renaissance students are employed through an on-site work-study program. Over the four-year period of its existence, 80-85% of seniors have graduated and received a regular high school diploma.


2004 Crystal Star Award for Students with Disabilities Program Award

Union Alternative School
Union Public Schools, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Union Alternative School was created in 1995 and moved into a $1.2 million facility that was built in 1997 specifically for this program. Over one-third of the students who enter Union Alternative School have juvenile justice backgrounds, 34% enter the program because of social or emotional problems, and the majority of the students suffer with attention deficit disorder. Their strong service-learning program has been a model for other alternative education programs throughout the state. A Parents As Teachers Program provides weekly assistance to pregnant and parenting teens. As a result of this parenting assistance, only one parenting teen has ever dropped out of Union Alternative School. Students attending Union have posted impressive gains in grades, attendance, and standardized test scores. Pre and post scores show an improvement in grade point average from 0.7 to 2.5; number of absences from 27 to 5; and standardized test scores from the 52nd percentile to the 79th percentile. In 2003, they won the Oklahoma Foundation of Excellence Medal for Excellence in Alternative Education.


2004 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Individual Winners

Mrs. Janet T. Catoe
Lancaster County School District, Lancaster, South Carolina

Janet T. Catoe is the site manager for Eastside Academy, Lancaster County School District, Lancaster, SC. Mrs. Catoe has been the director of the alternative school since its inception in January 2000. She works with a variety of community groups to seek ways to reach not only the student, but also the child. Family literacy, parenting classes, and a self-help station are available to those in need, and Janet has drawn on the faith communities for support. The SC State Department of Education often refers other school districts to Eastside. She has spoken at many conferences on the state and national level. Janet has been recognized by the Lancaster Chapter of the Optimist Club for outstanding leadership in the community, received the Scroll of Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Lancaster County by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and named South Carolina Rural Educator of the Year in 2004. Under her leadership, the Academy won a South Carolina School Board Association’s Saluting Student Success Award in 2003. In 2004, they won a Palmetto Pride Award of Appreciation and the United Way Gold Award for Community Service and Pride for their service-learning projects.


Mr. Jim Lawson
A. Crawford Mosley High School, Panama City, Florida

Jim Lawson is a public school teacher for Bay District Schools, A. Crawford Mosley High School, Panama City, FL. He has over 29 years of teaching experience, and for the last 16 years has been the district’s in-school suspension (ISS) teacher for middle and high school students. He has developed and implemented a “model for structure” featuring a behavioral rubric for the purpose of assessing individual student performance in the ISS classroom. Jim has enjoyed an eight-year record of success by teaching over 6,000 students how to monitor their daily, individual behavior and performance. Regular, special needs, and gifted students have been successful in this program. His model has been featured on the Education World web site, in dropout prevention books, and local newspapers, and on television. He is nationally recognized for his leadership skills and expertise in addressing school safety and dropout prevention issues.


Dr. Norman W. Shearin, Jr.
Vance County Schools, Henderson, North Carolina

Dr. Norman W. Shearin, Jr. is Superintendent of Vance County Schools, Henderson, North Carolina. He has been a public school educator for 40 years. Dr. Shearin has been a math teacher, athletic coach, department head, assistant principal, high school principal, and deputy superintendent. He has worked to develop, promote and implement literacy in Vance County Schools. Dr. Shearin established the first alternative high school in the county, and has implemented a self-paced computer-based program for at-risk students. He was the original principal for the first cities-in-Schools National Program in Florida where his school reduced the dropout rate over nine years from 37% to 13%. Dr. Shearin’s motto is: “Programs do not change people, relationships do!”


2004 Crystal Star Award for Students with Disabilities Individual Award

Dr. Larry Kortering
Appalachian State University

Dr. Larry Kortering is a professor in special education at Appalachian State University, and directs a grant on using Universal Design for Learning in the areas of algebra and biology. He has worked as a public school teacher and rehabilitation counselor. His current interests focus on helping high school teachers develop programs that are more responsive to the needs of youth at risk of dropping out and helping them to succeed in today’s high stakes testing environment. As part of this interest, he has conducted interviews with school dropouts and annually surveys more than 1,000 high school students. These efforts help provide a unique perspective on high school—that of the student as a consumer.


2004 Crystal Star Award of Excellence Distinguished Leadership and Service

Ms. Lois L. Gracey
Communities In Schools of Florida

Lois L. Gracey, State Director of Communities In Schools of Florida, has been employed by CIS of Florida since its inception in 1989. Ms. Gracey has extensive experience in all aspects of program and agency administration. She established the first local Communities In Schools Program in Palm Beach County, Florida in 1984. She began the CIS process in Florida at Twin Lakes High School, Palm Beach County, with 75 students. In 1989, the State Office was started with a grant from Bell South Foundation. From that humble beginning —one school in one county—CIS of Florida has grown to serve nearly 31,000 students in 16 counties. Ms. Gracey has served as a member and past chair of the National Dropout Prevention Network Board, is a member of the CIS, Inc. State Directors Association, and is a graduate of Leadership Florida. She was instrumental in initiating the agreement between the National Dropout Prevention Network and CIS National Headquarters. While serving on the NDPN Board, she has chaired two national conferences sponsored by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. Ms. Gracey has a vision for a better life for children—a vision for CIS of Florida—and she shares that vision with her staff and colleagues.