Richland County (SC) School District One Coordinator of Dropout Prevention and Community Partnerships Recognized for School, Faith-Based, and Community Efforts to Reduce Dropout Rate

ANDERSON, S.C. (February 22, 2018) – Kerry Leslie Abel, Coordinator of Dropout Prevention and Community Partnerships for Richland County (SC) School District One, is the 2018 recipient of the National Dropout Prevention Center’s Governor and Mrs. Richard W. Riley Award for Excellence in Dropout Prevention. The Riley Award recognizes a South Carolinian who has made a significant contribution to improving high school graduation rates. The award is given in honor of Governor and Mrs. Richard W. Riley because of their many years of service and contributions to the school success of South Carolina’s youth. As Governor and First Lady of South Carolina, the Rileys led the state through an era of successful school improvement. Governor Riley later served as Secretary of Education in the Clinton and was instrumental in founding the National Dropout Prevention Center.

Kerry Abel is responsible for coordinating Richland County School District One’s efforts related to dropout prevention, intervention, and special programs. He is also the cofounder and Coordinator of the Richland One Evening High School, a high school designed to serve students aged 16-20 interested in obtaining a high school diploma but, due to life circumstances, are unable to attend school during the day. Mr. Abel is the founding director of the Office of Afterschool Programs for Richland County School District One and served as director for six years. Under his leadership the district received the 2004 Afterschool Champion Award from the National Afterschool Alliance. His past experience includes Project Director for Richland One’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant and Director of the Columbia Urban League’s “Drugs Destroy Dreams” Youth Drug Prevention Program. Mr. Abel is active in his alumni, church, and professional communities, including board membership for the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the Community Health Assistance Team. He is a member of the National Dropout Prevention Network and the South Carolina Alliance of Black School Educators, receiving that organization’s 2014 President’s Award.

Dr. Sandy Addis, Director of The National Dropout Prevention Center, said, “Kerry Abel serves as an example for those of us who have dedicated our lives to dropout prevention. He has combined his passion for insuring students have the opportunity to receive a high school diploma with reinforcing the efforts of the community towards that end. His work in schools, the faith community, and the community at large represents the systemic approach to dropout preventions the NDPC has advocated for over 30 years.”

About the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC)

Established in 1986 with a mission to reduce dropout rates, the NDPC shares solutions for student success and dropout prevention through its clearinghouse function, active research and evaluation projects, publications, and a variety of professional development activities and conferences. The organization’s website——is the nation’s leading resource in providing effective, research-based solutions to engaging students and reducing dropout.



Photo caption: Kerry Abel accepts the Governor and Mrs. Richard W. Riley Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention at the 2018 At-Risk Youth National FORUM in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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