Wilson County Department of Social Services Success in School Program
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
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.