2008 Crystal Star Award Recipients

2008 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

Clark Pleasant Academy of Whiteland, IN

Clark Pleasant Academy offers a fresh alternative for students on their educational path toward graduation. The mission of the Academy is to provide an opportunity for students to earn a high school diploma in order to have a better life. The target population is students who have dropped out and agreed to reenroll in high school or students who are failing in a traditional program and have expressed a serious intent to drop out.

Clark Pleasant Academy strives to be a unique facility that functions unlike a traditional school. Required instructional credits are mastered using a software program that meets all standards set by the Indiana Department of Education. In addition, each student must earn vocational credits by attending a local career center or maintaining employment. Students in the vocational strand also complete individual portfolios that reflect employment-related skills. The other distinctive program at the Academy is our service component. All students at the Academy complete a service project at a community-based site. Current students serve as teacher-assistants in elementary schools as well as working at a nearby food pantry, at the county’s animal shelter, and serving as companions in a local assisted-living facility.

Exciting directions for the program’s future include a partnership with Simon Youth Foundation in which we become an SYF Education Resource Center and a partnership with Ivy Tech, a local college, which will allow us to participate in Early College.

Lessons Learned:

  • The more you create a learning environment that is unlike a traditional school, the more positively students embrace the environment.
  • Students in alternative placements need fewer rules, not more. The Academy has no rules, only two guidelines: “We are nice to each other,” and “No one makes anyone else’s life harder.”
  • Mandating that the students perform service to the community is critical. Our students are not generally the students chosen as “helpers” and the experience of giving back often changes their entire outlook in a positive way.
  • Many of our students have developed less-than-appropriate survival skills. It’s crucial to respect the place of those skills in “their world” and to not take them away without replacing them with something that will be equally useful to the student.
  • Empowering students to choose how to use their time is a valuable tool. With their being “in class” only 3 hours, we make it plain that it’s their 3 hours to use as they choose (although we certainly offer encouragement for the time to be productive).

Simon Youth Foundation Education Resource Centers (SYF ERCs)

Simon Youth Foundation (SYF) is dedicated to providing at-risk and underserved youth the extra support needed to succeed in their education and throughout their lives. SYF’s work is focused on two issues: the national dropout rate and college access. through its Education Resource Center (ERC) and scholarship programs, SYF is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary of service to youth.

The ERC program was developed to help students who face barriers such as balancing school, work, and family to overcome obstacles and gain everyday career and life skills. ERCs are alternative schools located primarily in malls that are developed as a partnership between SYF and one or more public school districts. To date, 23 ERCs in 11 states serve more than 2,300 students annually, maintain an 89% cumulative graduation rate, and continue to expand. ERCs are not harder or easier than traditional high schools, just different in approach. Every student must pass their particular state’s graduation requirements. small classes, individualized instruction, computer-assisted instruction, and shorter class days are just a few unique facets of an ERC program that helps students succeed. SYF has awarded postsecondary scholarships totaling $5.9 million to 2,217 students from 42 states who need financial help in order to pursue their dreams. Five thousand students have earned their diploma at an ERC.

Lessons Learned:

  • At first, so many of our Simon Youth Foundation Education Resource Center students have failed for so long, that they don’t know what success feels like. We can’t change their surroundings, but we can change how they perceive them and themselves in the future.
  • Providing each student with a strong and lasting relationship with at least one significant adult; exposure to a small, nurturing, environment; and low pupil-teacher ratio have been the secrets to our success. Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!
  • Getting coping skills to a level where students can function in the world around them and teaching them ways to break the cycle goes a long way toward their success in the future.
  • Celebrate the small victories each day and deal with the inevitable setbacks.
  • Alternative educators need to do it differently, because at-risk youth need it differently.

The Star Academy Program™ Pickens County, South Carolina

The award-winning Star Academy ProgramTM is a school-within-a-school designed to serve the needs of disengaged 7th, 8th, and/or 9th grade students in a safe, happy, and productive environment. Students complete a rigorous one-year academic program and learn coping skills as well as life skills that eventually enable them to successfully complete 10th through 12th grades in a regular school environment.

The Star Academy ProgramTM employs multiple learning methodologies, incorporates hands-on learning experiences, builds teamwork skills, promotes career exploration, and fosters student responsibility for learning and behavior. Core courses in math, science, English language arts, and social studies are designed to accommodate students’ multiple learning styles. An alternative to the traditional classroom, the Star Academy ProgramTM enables students to gain Carnegie units and career-related direction that puts them back on track for high school graduation, viable employment, or further education.

Lessons Learned:

  • Utilize hands-on learning in support of cognitive performance. Provide rich multimedia/multimodal learning activities.
  • Employ individual, cooperative-pair, and small-team learning experiences.
  • Capitalize on students’ multiple intelligences.
  • Assure core content is delivered with the intent of improving literacy and English language skills.
  • Accommodate learning style differences.
  • Create a healthy school climate in which to learn.
  • Operate as a school within a school.

2008 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Individual Winners

Dr. Judith Ann and Mr. Joseph F. Pauley

Dr. Judith Ann Pauley retired after a 42-year career as a chemistry and physics teacher and department chair to become CEO of Process Communications, Inc. in 1999. She is a member of several scientific organizations and served on the Executive Board of the Maryland Association of Science Teachers, was a co-founder of the Maryland CHEMATHON, and was President of the Montgomery Area Science Fair Association and the Chemical Educators of Maryland. She was named science teacher of the year three times.

Mr. Joseph Pauley has taught in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and graduate school. Mr. Pauley joined the federal government where he served in a variety of management and executive positions for 30 years, 21 of which were spent in Asia. After his retirement he joined Process Communications, Inc. as president. He also is Vice President for Education of Kahler Communication, Inc. headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Both Dr. and Mr. Pauley are authorities on using Process Communication in the workplace and in the classroom. They teach in several colleges and universities from New Hampshire to California showing educators how to individualize instruction to reach every student and keep them in school. They have written two books for educators that have been very well received and several articles that have been published in various education journals. They were the guest editors of the winter 2003 National Dropout Prevention Newsletter. They present annually at about 18 national, international and state education conferences and do in-services for schools all over the country. Teachers applying the concepts of Process Communication in the classroom are having great success in raising academic achievement, closing the achievement gap, reducing disruptive student behaviors, and persuading at-risk students to stay in school and graduate. They also have firsthand experience in the special education arena because they are the parents of a daughter with Down Syndrome and a son who is dyslexic.

Mr. Brian Sites

Brian’s passions for dropout prevention began in his high school years. He grew up in Madras, OR, a community that had the highest dropout rate in the state. One-third of his classmates did not finish high school, and Brian’s passion today is driven by his experiences during these years, seeing firsthand the impact dropping out had on many of his childhood friends. Brian has been teaching for five years in the Richland (WA) School District. In his four years at River’s Edge High School, an alternative high school, he has worked to increase the emphasis on postsecondary planning, and students have benefited as a direct result. Several years ago, less than 10% of students were pursuing education beyond their high school diploma, but in recent years, that number has increased to nearly 60%. Many of his students are first generation college students and were struggling to access higher education prior to the guidance provided by Brian and his colleagues. Brian has gone above and beyond to assist students and their families with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as scholarship and college admissions applications. He has advocated for his students with college admissions officials, with success in getting them admitted despite not fitting the traditional mold. In April 2008, Brian received recognition from Eastern Washington University for his efforts to advance postsecondary education, being honored with the EWU Alumni Award for Community Building (advocating for underrepresented groups.)

He has raised community awareness of the needs of at-risk teens in his community, coordinating a Community Summit that brought together social service and nonprofit agencies, as well as business and government leaders. Brian takes an active role in a Community Solutions group, which addresses a wide range of issues in his community from a health and human services perspective. His expertise in dropout prevention and intervention has provided many local leaders with valuable insight regarding the needs of students most at risk of dropping out. He is currently working to promote dropout prevention by working with Communities In Schools in his state, hoping to create a CIS community in his region. Brian sets high expectations of his students, serves as a positive role model, and develops caring relationships that result in high levels of achievement and success!

Dr. Howard B.“Sandy“ Addis

Sandy Addis has worked for 38 years in public education as a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, principal, system-level administrator, school improvement specialist, and regional service agency director. Throughout his career in public education, Dr. Addis has focused his energies on reducing dropout rates and on increasing graduation rates. In the early 1980’s he was a high school counselor responsible for identifying at-risk students and keeping them in school. In 1988, he designed, secured funding for, and directed one of the nation’s first federal dropout prevention projects that reduced the true dropout rate of a rural South Carolina school system from 8% per year to less than 2% per year. Over the past 20 years, Sandy Addis has implemented a variety of programs which have improved student academic achievement and graduation rates. These programs have provided thousands of at-risk students with designated school counselors, after-school programs, summer enrichment, credit recovery, parent support, mentors, tutors, and rewards for improved behavior, attendance, and academic achievement.

Sandy Addis holds degrees from Furman University, Clemson University, and South Carolina State University. He has authored professional publications on the education of at-risk youth, delivered numerous professional presentations on the topic, and has taught graduate-level courses for teachers and counselors on dropout prevention strategies. Dr. Addis is a member of the Board of the National Dropout Prevention Network and is currently the Executive Director of Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in Cleveland, Georgia. As director of Pioneer RESA, Dr. Addis has focused the agency’s resources on providing services that support the efforts of 13 rural school systems to achieve Georgia’s goal of increased graduation rates.

2008 Crystal Star Award of Excellence Distinguished Leadership and Service

Mr. John Murray

As chairman and CEO of AdvancePath Academics, Inc., John maintains overall responsibility for AdvancePath’s strategic and financial objectives. Prior to joining AdvancePath, John was Chairman, President, and CEO of PLATO Learning, Inc., where he had a successful 18 year career. PLATO is the largest, publicly traded, educational software provider in the world and serves the needs of both mainstream and alternative education. Under John’s leadership, PLATO’s revenues grew from $33 to $142 million in 7 years, its balance sheet was significantly strengthened, and it became recognized by educators, policymakers, and politicians as an industry leader and change agent.

Prior to assuming the duties of PLATO’s Chairman and CEO, John held numerous other positions at PLATO, including President & Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President of Operations, and Vice President of Product Development. John started his career at PLATO by launching the military and aerospace training division in the UK. Prior to his career in business, John spent 16 years in the British Army’s Signal Corp after leaving high school at age 15. John was recognized in the Queens 1985 Birthday Honors list for his outstanding contribution to Army training. John, who is passionate about improving life opportunities for at-risk students and dropouts, is Chairman of the National Dropout Prevention Network, the largest organization in the U.S. focused on the nation’s dropout problem.


Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors