2007 Crystal Star Award Recipients

2007 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

The Latin American Community Center’s High School Recovery Program

The Latin American Community Center’s High School Credit Recovery Program was established in 2004 to provide opportunities for students to receive the support that they need to recover credits and master prerequisite skills to advance in their educational careers. This is important for several reasons, one of which is to satisfy requirements laid out in the No Child Left Behind Act that requires schools to increase the number of students who graduate from high school. This federal mandate is also consistent with state expectations to increase graduation rates and provides continued support to students. The goal of this program is to provide an educational setting where students served by the Latin American Community Center and who attend one of the contracted schools can earn academic credits toward graduation in an environment that is sensitive to their academic and life circumstances.

Lessons Learned:

The Program Must:

Be flexible and youth-centered, yet adhere to requirements articulated by Delaware’s Department of Education.
Enforce behaviors required by the Registration Contract.
Provide a climate of success where success is expected and rewarded.
Allow students in grades 9-11 who have fallen behind in one or two high school credits a chance to make up the credits.

Communities In Schools of Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta began helping young people stay in school and earn their high school diplomas in 1972. The mission of CIS is to connect community resources with schools to help young people successfully learn, stay in school, and prepare for life. During the 2006-07 school year, CIS of Atlanta provided direct support at 48 schools in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County. Schools were selected based on criteria including poor attendance, low test scores, low graduation rates, lack of parent involvement, and/or high rates of poverty. CIS of Atlanta has developed strategies in a number of areas identified as components of an effective dropout prevention program, including family engagement, alternative schooling, service-learning, after-school opportunities, and school-community collaboration. The accomplishments of CIS over the last seven years have resulted in systemic changes, particularly in Atlanta Public Schools, that have resulted in CIS staff being placed in every high school and middle school, and 25% of all elementary schools in the system. Each year, CIS of Atlanta also recruits donations of services, volunteers, products, and other resources now valued at close to $3 million for the schools it serves. CIS-supported schools are reporting impressive gains in students’ attendance rates, test scores, and graduation rates.

Lessons Learned:

It is about relationships, not programs. Kids who are struggling in school, first and foremost, need a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult who can encourage them, believe in them, and help them wade through their challenges. We spend a lot of time trying to find the right people, that is, the people who really have a passion for working with our kids. If they don’t walk in the door with a passion for this kind of work, we probably won’t be able to train them into it.
It is about leveraging community resources. There really are many public and private agencies, civic groups, faith groups, and con-cerned individuals who can be persuaded to help when we are able to carve out a clear role for them and let them know their investment is making a difference. Our staff are required to get other partners involved in their efforts.
There are no easy answers. The only simple answer to the question of how to keep kids in school is “be ready to do whatever it takes.” We try to describe our work to funders in the simplest terms, but we have had to learn not to be afraid to tell them that turning kids around is a complex process and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Make sure you have good data to show your efforts are making an impact!

2007 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Individual Winner

Ms. Beverly M. Herrlinger
Administrator, Jefferson County High School, Louisville, KY

Ms. Beverly M. Herrlinger has been involved with public education in many capacities for over 30 years, most of those years dealing with at-risk students. After graduating from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, she began teaching high school English and drama where she quickly learned that she preferred working with students who had a hard time making it in the regular school setting. After moving to Kentucky, while working part time in Adult Education and raising her two children, Beverly returned to school and received an M.A. from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was during this time with Adult Education that Beverly returned to her prime interest—working with at-risk students. It was a very easy decision to make when she was offered an opportunity to work with Buell Snyder to establish Jefferson County High School, the largest alternative high school in Kentucky and a former Crystal Star Award Program winner. Ms. Herrlinger has dedicated her educational career to working with at-risk students both as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Because of her expertise in this area, Beverly has served as a presenter at various national, state, and local conferences. In addition, Beverly has served as a consultant to numerous school districts in the areas of curriculum, professional staff development, and teacher training.


2007 Crystal Star for Students with Disabilities Individual Award

Ms. Laura Brown
Director of North Georgia Learning Resources System (GLRS), Cleveland, GA

Ms. Laura Brown serves as the Director of North Georgia Learning Resources System (GLRS), an extension of the Georgia Department of Educa¬tion, coordinating special education services and professional development for local schools in the northeast corner of Georgia. She is a 28-year veteran educator and began her career as a special education resource teacher. She has worked in schools at every level including as an elementary assistant principal, a system level special education consultant, as well as a middle and high school teacher. She has led the development of a regional initiative focused on encouraging students with disabilities to stay in school and graduate. Ms. Brown is currently the Project Coordinator for Georgia’s Graduation project designed to address the dropout issues related to students with disabilities. During her tenure at North GLRS, she has led school improvement initiatives in the areas of inclusive practices, support for students with autism, adolescent reading, and middle school mathematics. Ms. Brown serves on various state committees and has presented at state, national, and international conferences.


2007 Crystal Star Award of Distinguished Leadership and Service Award

Dr. Arthur Stellar
Superintendent of Schools, Taunton Public Schools, Taunton, MA

Dr. Arthur Stellar is superintendent of the Taunton Public Schools in Massachusetts where the dropout rate was 7.8% before he arrived and 4.2% after two years of his leadership. He previously served as superintendent in Kingston, New York; Cobb County Georgia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Mercer County, West Virginia; and Boston, Massachusetts (acting superintendent). Dr. Stellar has also been affiliated with school systems in Shaker Heights, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; Beverly, Massachusetts; and in Ohio-Athens, Southwestern City Schools and Belpre. He also served as chief education officer and vice-president for Renaissance Learning, Inc., and president/CEO of High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. Dr. Stellar is the former national president of the Association for Super-vision and Curriculum Development, the North American Chapter of World Council for Curriculum and Instruction and the Horace Mann League. He has been chairman of the board for the National Dropout Prevention Network, as well as serving on various boards such as the corporate board for Plato Learning, Inc. In addition, Stellar has been a consultant for various com¬panies and organizations including the administrator search firm PROACT Search. As a former Fulbright Scholar, Stellar is also widely published and the recipient of many awards such as AASA’s “Leadership for Learning” and the “Dr. Effie Jones Humanitarian” awards. However, among his proudest accomplishments are (1) reducing the number of at-risk/low-performing schools in Oklahoma City from 32 to 3 and (2) mentoring various proteges including a diverse array of 43 administrators who have become superintendents.