2011 Crystal Star Award Recipients

2011 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Individual Winners

Deb Dillon Fargo Public Schools Fargo, ND Deb Dillon, Principal of Woodrow Wilson High School and Director of Alternative Programs in Fargo Public Schools, was honored by the National Dropout Prevention Network with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention at the 2011 National Dropout Prevention Network Conference, held October 9-12, 2011, in Schaumburg, IL. Ms. Dillon started teaching high school English and journalism in Iowa and Ohio. Since moving to Fargo, North Dakota, in 1985, she has directed and built a dropout prevention program and served as a high school dean of students, middle school assistant principal, alternative high school principal and district director of alternative programs. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Iowa State University, an M.S. in counseling from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and an Education Specialist degree in administration from North Dakota State. Deb Dillon has spent her career working with alternative and at-risk students. As with many new teachers, she was initially assigned the “difficult” students no one else wanted. Unlike many, she was drawn to and excited by these students and has continued to focus on them and their particular needs. She particularly credits the Fargo Public Schools for their exceptional support of nontraditional students and their willingness to honestly tackle the issue of dropout prevention.

2011 Crystal Star Award of Excellence Distinguished Leadership and Service

Dr. Robert Shumer University of Minnesota Dr. Robert Shumer of the University of Minnesota was honored by the National Dropout Prevention Network with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Distinguished Leadership and Service at the 2011 National Dropout Prevention Network Conference, held October 9-12, 2011, in Schaumburg, IL. This award is the highest award given by the Network. Robert Shumer has been involved in education for more than 40 years. He has taught from middle school through graduate school. Dr. Shumer is the former Director of Field Studies at UCLA and the past founding Director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse and co-director of the Center for Experiential Education and Service Learning at the University of Minnesota. He was also the past President of the Minnesota Evaluation Association and current board member of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement. He has served as the president of the National Experience Based Career Education Association in the 1980s, as well as an officer in the California Alternative School Network. Dr. Shumer has served in various editorial/journal capacities, including editor of the Information for Action: A Journal for Research on Service-Learning for Children and Youth, as well as advisor to the NDPN International Journal on School Disaffection. He has presented across the country and around the world on topics related to service-learning, civic engagement, and theories of learning and action. He currently teaches courses on civic engagement, participatory evaluation, and constructivist curriculum. Dr. Shumer has written more than 80 books, book chapters, and articles and monographs on topics related to education and social change; and has conducted more than 25 research/evaluation studies on national service, service-learning, civic engagement, and participatory evaluation. Dr. Shumer has spent his lifetime attempting to connect educational programs with the community. From elementary and secondary schools, to colleges and universities, to community-based organizations, he has promoted and developed programs that focus on active learning, learning connected to community and real world contexts, and active engagement of students in the development and evaluation of their own educational programs. He continues to believe students don’t drop out of school or life when their learning is active, project based, relationally connected, personally meaningful, and contributes to the well being of society. Dr. Shumer’s contributions to the Network have been exemplary. From serving on the editorial board for the International Journal of School Disaffection, to writing for publication, (including a monograph, Youth-Led Evaluation), to presenting conference presentations and pre-sessions, to participating on Performance Assessment Review teams for the National Dropout Prevention Center, Dr. Shumer has shown a great capacity to work within our organization to reach our common goals.

2011 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

The College of Lake County Educational Talent Search Lake County, IL Accepted by: Michael Pettis, Sylvia Johnson, Sharon Sanders-Funnye, Ana Elizarraga, and Trendelle Vaughn The College of Lake County Educational Talent Search, was honored with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention. Pictured in the attached photo are Michael Pettis, Sylvia Johnson, Sharon Sanders-Funnye, Ana Elizarraga, and Trendelle Vaughn, who all attended the conference and accepted the award. The College of Lake County (CLC), a two-year comprehensive community college located in Lake County, IL, is the primary postsecondary institution serving student populations who are first-generation and low-income households. CLC will continue its successful Educational Talent Search Program by serving 850 eligible student participants from its four target high schools: North Chicago Community High School, Waukegan High School, Round Lake Area High School, and Zion-Benton Township High School. The Educational Talent Search Program at the College of Lake County has filled programmatic voids at the target schools by providing connections to educational services such as academic advising to low-income, potential first-generation college students, as well as providing direct academic assistance services, tutoring and test preparation, financial aid assistance and financial literary services, career mentoring, help in applying to postsecondary institutions, college visits, technology instruction, and personal growth workshops and seminars. Parental involvement is strongly emphasized throughout the program duration. The Educational Talent Search program hopes to continue to foster student skills and provide a strong foundation that prepares them directly for enrollment, success, and degree attainment in postsecondary education. The CLC Educational Talent Search Program provides the services and support needed to improve the performance of its participants based on its objectives. Program data over the last three years indicates the following: Persistence Rate – 90% average (exceeds mandated outcome); Graduation Rate – 94% average (exceeds mandated outcome); Postsecondary Enrollment Rate – 65% average (increased to 86% in year three); Number of students enrolled over last three years – 901 (average)—exceeds total number mandated to serve; and more than two-thirds of enrolled participants are first-generation students from low-income households (exceeds mandated amount of two-thirds). Educational Talent Search has created a coordinated, collaborative, and cost-effective college access strategy, working with established community and school partners, and expanding the program’s reliance on the many resources available through CLC.
Sarah Pyle Academy Wilmington, DE Accepted by: Ms Sharon L. Hill, EDd, Dr. Malvine C. Richard, and Ms Tami Rappa. Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington, DE, was honored with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention. Pictured in the attached photo receiving the award from the Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network are Ms. Sharon L. Hill, ED& Graduation Guide; Dr. Malvine C. Richard, Principal; and Ms Tami Rappa, English Teacher. Sarah Pyle Academy is an academically accelerated, nontraditional high school in the Christina School District with a student population of 160. Students succeed due to smaller class size, computer-based learning programs, concentration on academics, collegial/family orientated student/staff relationships, strict behavioral/conduct expectations, goal setting, and an accepting environment. At SPA students are empowered. The empowerment includes a restoration of a sense of self dignity, the respect they see themselves held in by fellow students and staff, their academic and life achievements, their graduation from high school and the positive direction their lives take after leaving Sarah Pyle. Many of the students who come to Sarah Pyle have been told they are unable to learn, unmotivated, and a slew of other negative adjectives. They have been marginalized as human beings, often because of their race, their labeling as special education, their socioeconomic standing or their family situations. At Sarah Pyle we not only tell them that they are no longer marginalized but demonstrate to them that they are at the very center of the future, their own as well as their neighborhood’s, society’s, and their country’s. Sarah Pyle is now in its seventh year. Last year 55 students out of a student population of 155 graduated. In total there have been over 500 graduates in the past six years. The majority of those graduates are now pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities. Sarah Pyle’s success is their students’ success and those successes continue to grow each year.

Wilson County Department of Social Services Success in School Program
Wilson, NC
Accepted by: Tracey Mooring and Nekia Lyons

Wilson County Department of Social Services Success in School Program was honored with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention. Tracey Mooring, Child Care Supervisor, and Nekia Lyons, Teen Parent Case Manager, received the award from the Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, Dr. Sam Drew at the Awards Luncheon. The Wilson County Department of Social Services’ Success in School Program targets teenage custodial parents receiving childcare subsidy to continue attending school and obtain a high school diploma. WCDSS obtained a two-year grant funded through North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, Dropout Prevention and Intervention Program to implement Success in School in August 2008. The Success in School incorporates a strengths-based, intense case management intervention while providing “best practice” strategies grounded in a System of Care approach to encourage, support, educate, and motivate teenage parents to continue their goal of achieving a high school diploma, parenting education, tutoring, job readiness training, summer employment opportunities, pregnancy prevention counseling, mentoring, financial education, and money management are provided to students. The school dropout rate is 63% for these students. Excessive absenteeism, poor academic performance, lack of transportation, lack of parental support, teen pregnancy, lack of resource information, and the increased stress of peer and parental relationships were the reasons cited for dropping out of school. Financial difficulties were also cited as a major reason for teen parents dropping out of school. Success in School (SIS) relies on strong case management support and offers intense programs/services for teenage parents. SIS also implemented a Teen Employment Mentoring Program (TEMP) component in 2010. Teens are matched with local employers who provide work experience and mentoring. Teens are provided opportunities to learn work, life and social skills after school and during the summer to prepare them for success in school, work and life. The program achieved the following outcomes annually: 2008/2009 School Year—89% of teen parents remained in school and/or graduated; 2009/2010 School Year—85% of teen parents remained in school and/or graduated; 2010/2011 School Year—80% of teen parents remained in school and/or graduated.

Center Grove Alternative Academy
Greenwood, IN
Accepted by: Beth Bryant and Carol Tumey

Center Grove Alternative Academy of Greenwood, IN, was honored with a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention. Presenting the award to Beth Bryant, Director of the Academy, and Carol Tumey, President of the Center Grove School Board of Trustees, was Dr. Sam Drew, Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. (photo attached) Center Grove Alternative Academy (CGAA), established in 2008, promotes educational excellence by equipping students with knowledge and skills that will help them lead a better life and be contributing citizens to their community while earning their high school diploma. CGAA serves a variety of students. Juniors and seniors are referred by their counselor due to struggles emotionally, educationally, personally, or financially. Students attend CGAA in the morning or afternoon block. In addition, they are required to maintain meaningful employment or attend the partnering vocational school. The online mastery curriculum, which meets all standards set by the Indiana Department of Education, allows students to work at their own pace. All CGAA students receive a Center Grove Community High School diploma. They are encouraged to take part in school sponsored events (prom, graduation, and senior activities) which allow them to maintain a positive connection with the high school. On a weekly basis, students have the opportunity to participate in a one-hour group session with a licensed social worker. Guest speakers from the community also present valuable information to the students about transitioning after high school; emphasizing college, employment, budgeting, and positive choices. Giving back to the community is a strong component for CGAA. Students volunteer at a local food bank, elementary schools, or an assisted living facility. Impressively, CGAA students currently operate the only student-run food pantry in the state of Indiana. On a weekly basis, the CARE Pantry serves 100+ needy residents of Johnson County. In addition, CGAA also has an evening program called Options. Students (grades 9-12) who attend Options may be referred due to medical conditions, release from incarceration, credit recovery, or as an alternative to expulsion. Students follow the same online mastery curriculum as CGAA. All students who attend Options transition back to their home school. One student said the following about CGAA, “I feel I have changed my life and will forever walk with my head up knowing that I have changed it for the better. I am not asking you to forget my past, but recognize that I now have a future!” Giving hope, providing support, and encouragement changes the lives of many students who were once broken emotionally and educationally.

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