1997 Crystal Star Award Recipients

1997 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

Maryland’s Tomorrow
State of Maryland

On of America’s longest running and most effective programs is now in its 10th year and is still effectively addressing the issue of at-risk youth. The goals of the program are simply stated: to improve attendance, and to increas skill competency, number of students graduating, and number of youth making a successful entry into postsecondary education and employment. The program identifies at-risk students in grade 8 and provides comprehensive, year-round instruction and support using a case-management approach. The program is not isolated; rather, it serves students in every jurisdiction in Maryland. Students stay in the program until one year after graduation. The results speak for themselves; dropouts are down and its Personal Development component is worthy of evaluation by all school districts across the United States. The Maryland’s Tomorrow High School Program is a statewide dropout prevention effort administered by the Maryland State Department of Education and operated in partnership with the Maryland Department of Licensing and Regulation, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, and the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies.

Project YES: Youth Experiencing Success
Henrico County Public Schools, VA

In 1991, Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia, set into force Project YES as part of a statewide dropout prevention effort that serves at-risk students. This program helps its young people be successful by reducing dropouts by 10%, increasing daily attendance by 5%, and providing coordinated alternative programs to meet the needs of identified at-risk students. The project clearly delineated the criteria for identification of at-risk students and effective strategies for prevention and intervention. Programs for primary children in reading, math, and English, as well as programs for middle school children with significant behavioral problems, were introduced. For this group the project also looked at suspension intervention to rescue those students who were in jeopardy of being “resident dropouts.” Finally, for secondary students, they provided GED Prep to assist students who were not focused on postsecondary education. Henrico County met its objectives and has provided a framework for other jurisdictions to follow in its successful footsteps.

St. Lucie Performance-Based Diploma Program
Ft. Pierce High School, FL

St. Lucie Performance-Based Diploma Program at Fort Pierce High School, Florida, began in 1989 and serves students from four high schools in the county. The Performance-Based Diploma Program operates as a “school-within-a-school” in a partnership among the school district, the local community college, parents, and the community. The progra, by design, requires most students to be enrolled for a minimum of two years. It was created to intervene with dropouts, at-risk and/or special needs students, as well as to provide a replicable format of the program for other school systems. The program uses a multifaceted, multisupportive, individualized and adaptive schedule for each student. The emphasis is on the individual and is adaptive, thus allowing the educational plan to be modified on a regular basis. By utilizing an electronic portfolio, the data can be adjusted daily. To supplement this schedule, there is a mentoring component whereby mentors visit the schools weekly acting as role models for the at-risk students and/or providing job shadowing or internship opportunities. This relationship clearly establishes a link between school and work, and at the same time provides a significant adult in the life of the student. A unique feature of the program is the dual enrollment agreement established with the Indian River Community College, creating a partnership among the community, the business partners, and the school. This unique program enables students to be less at risk and more likely to graduate and go on to postsecondary education.

1997 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Individual Winners

Michael Denny
Leonardtown High School, Maryland
Now in his 9th year of working with at-risk students, Michael Denny is a teacher who deserves consideration for the “national teacher of the year” award. Taking “unsavable” students, he has helped transform them into graduates and contributing members of the community. To Michael, there are no “throw-away” students. In recognition of his efforts in dropout prevention, he was the only high school teacher to serve on the Maryland State Dropout Prevention Task Force last year. His nominator summed Michael’s contributions up as follows: “Many consider Michael Denny to be the teacher who leads the state in developing dropout prevention programs and in working effectively with students, teachers, parents, community members, and legislators in achieving this goal. His passion, enthusiasm, and caring for students show no limits.”

Janice Dreshman-Chiodo
A Crises Intervention Specialist, Janice has been nominated by her principal for her commitment to students, her credo of dedication and hard work. These characteristics allowed her to be hired from her previous role as a consultant from Saint Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work in creating the “VIP” program—Vikings Influencing Peers—reinforces the purpose of the school, which is to educate the whole child and meet all the student’s needs. Her work in encouraging the students, the families, and the community to connect has strengthened the commitment of all parties to assist thos students at risk. Janice’s work to keep the students connected to the community through beneficial and humanitarian outreach is worthy of emulation by educators across the United States. Her links to service-learning are part of her holistic approach to education, i.e., reaching the whole child.

Dean Frost
Louisiana Department of Education
As a teacher, consultant, facilitator, and administrator in several states, Dean Frost recognized the growing trend of American youth voluntarily terminating their formal education early in her career. She diligently began to address the individual’s detachment from structured education by becoming an active charter member in the National Dropout Prevention Network. Her commitment to this national problem has been evidenced by the many innovative programs she has brought to Louisiana’s public schools. As Director of the Bureau of Student Services, Louisiana Department of Education, she continues to implement programs throughout Louisiana that identify students at an early age who are at risk for terminating their education. Three programs under her direction are: In-School Intervention Pilot Program; Child Welfare and Attendance Program; and School-Based Health Clinics and HIV/AIDS Education.

Russell Wheatley
Dade County Public Schools, Florida
In Dade County, Russell Wheatley’s name has become synonymous with dropout prevention, and he is the undisputed authority on issues concerning students at risk. Russell began his career in 1957, and 42 years later is still considered a dedicated educator. He is committed to the belief that everyone can succeed if placed in the proper educational setting. In 1971, he established such an educational setting with Miami MacArthur North and has continued interactive partnerships with Communities in Schools. Russell became an advocate for at-risk students before it became popular to do so. His advocacy and commitment to at-risk students and programs in Dade County have allowed him to have an outstanding career as an educator. Russell is an educator who has worked to make programs for at-risk students more than just a fad; he has led the way to make them an integral component of education. Students across the nation—past, present, and future—are indebted to this pioneer of preventative programs for the at-risk youth of America.