2012 Crystal Star Award Recipients

2012 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Awards of Excellence Program Winners

Berkeley County School District Star Academy
Monck’s Corner, SC

Accepted by: Dr. Kimberly McLaren, Director of Secondary Schools, Berkeley County School District; and Mr. Jonah Bryant, Star Academy Director, Berkeley County School District

Berkeley County School District’s STAR Academy offers off grade-level students the ability to catch up with their peers and to graduate on time. These students may have lost hope or experienced personal, academic, or social challenges in their lives. In this magnet program, identified students complete eighth and ninth grade in one year, continue as a cohort as sophomores, and then qualify for Berkeley Middle College in their junior and senior years. Students with essentially no hope of graduating are now not only graduating on time but many are earning college credits prior to graduation as well.

The Berkeley County STAR Academy gives parents the opportunity to reengage in the education of their children and build a support group with the staff. STAR gives students the opportunity to become productive teens and successful adults by providing a rigorous course of study that embraces hands-on learning, real-world learning experiences, individualized instruction, team instruction, and personal development.

Fred C. Beyer High School – AdvancedPath Academy
Modesto, CA

Accepted by: Ms. Terri Salaiz, Team Leader, Fred C. Beyer High School, AdvancePath Academy; and Mr. Nick Stine, Regional Vice President, California, AdvancePath Academy

Lead Teacher Terri Salaiz at the Fred C. Beyer High School – AdvancePath Academy in Modesto, California, often quotes a phrase she heard at a teachers’ conference: “As teachers, we should first never take away hope.” She and the teaching team at Fred C. Beyer High School – AdvancePath Academy have seen many students who have indeed lost all hope of graduation or for a better life. This teaching team does not accept this negative outcome and challenges students to understand their worth and ability to succeed on their own terms. Leveraging the power of research-based instructional and behavioral strategies, the Academy’s team guides and supports students’ learning efforts—succeeding with 9 out of every 10 youths they reach.

Enthusiasm, transparency, and all-around engagement seem to be the source of this Academy’s remarkable achievements. The statistics from the 2011-2012 school year demonstrate the overall effectiveness in improving educational outcomes for at-risk students: The Academy served 237 students during the academic year, most of whom were 40-45% credit deficient (1 – 1.5 years behind) upon enrollment. Over 50% of them (125) earned their District diploma. Seventy of the remaining students have returned to the Academy this year, on track to graduate, having closed their deficiency gap to 10-15%. Twelve are now able to return to their comprehensive high school site. One more factor in this outstanding success rate is a strong commitment to attendance. The Academy is proud to report an astonishing attendance rate of 87%. It is also worth noting that only three discipline referrals were accumulated during the recent past school year—another amazing accomplishment when compared with the immediate past record of 250 referrals from among 10 students, acquired prior to coming to the AdvancePath Academy. The AdvancePath Academy is an outstanding testimony to the impact a successful dropout prevention program can have on students, families, a school district, and the broader community.

Individual Awards

Elaine Fahrner
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Nashville, TN

Elaine Fahrner has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of education. At the close of the 2008-09 school year, Fahrner was selected as the start-up principal of The Academy at Old Cockrill, a high school that gives at-risk students and dropouts a new beginning. The school accommodates roughly 125 students at a time. In just three years, Fahrner has helped more than 500 students earn high school diplomas.

Elaine believes everyone should be accepted as they are; recognized for their achievements, and feel they are a part of something and not alone. Elaine’s heart is with the at-risk student. Elaine was the recipient of the 2012 “Key to Success in Educational Excellence Award” from the National Alternative Education Association (NAEA). The Academy at Old Cockrill was also recognized by the NAEA for being one of three best programs in America! As a result of this prestigious award she was invited to speak in San Diego at the 2012 National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) Symposium. Here she presented a breakout session about The Academy at Old Cockrill. Elaine has also been a consistent presenter at National Dropout Prevention Center conferences.

Jon Heymann
Communities In Schools of Jacksonville
Jacksonville, FL

Jon Heymann leads Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, an organization that serves almost 7,000 at-risk students in Duval County. Aside from acting as CEO, he has also been a mentor for the past eight years and urges all Communities In Schools staff to be part of the organization’s mentoring program. Through his service on a variety of boards, Heymann has an impressive and proven record of helping youth in our community and throughout the nation.

This year, under Jon’s leadership, Communities In Schools of Jacksonville assisted with Mayor Alvin Brown’s Mayor’s Mentors program, recruiting more new mentors for at-risk students than any other program involved in the citywide initiative. Communities In Schools recruited, trained, and placed more than 185 new mentors during the three-month campaign this past spring.

The Stanford University Social Innovation Review called Jon Heymann one of America’s “transformational leaders.” Last fall, the Journal for the University’s Graduate School of Business cited Heymann as an example of the kind of business leader who “creates trusting relationships by challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way and encouraging the heart.” Most recently, Heymann earned the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville’s annual Good Government Award for his efforts and success in dropout prevention in Duval County.

Distinguished Leadership and Service Award

Linda Harrill
Communities In Schools of North Carolina
Charlotte, NC

Linda Harrill joined Communities In Schools in 1989 as North Carolina’s first state director, serving the organization there with the exception of one year at the national office as vice president for Field Operations. She worked with the governor’s office to establish the North Carolina Mentoring Partnership and North Carolina Promise Summit.

For more than 40 years, Harrill has been involved in education as a former teacher, administrator, education consultant, and university instructor. She graduated from Radford University in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and received her master’s degree in education from North Carolina State University. She has done postgraduate work in educational administration and curriculum and instruction, and has completed all of her doctoral studies in educational administration.

She received the “Long Leaf Pine,” the highest civilian honor in North Carolina, for her contributions to education; the 2007 North Carolina State Alumni of the Year for Education; and the UNC-W Razor-Walker Award. In 2012, she received the Triangle Business Journal Women in Business honor; was named the NC Business Leader Woman Extraordinaire; and received MENTOR’s Manza Excellence in Leadership Award. She has been a member of numerous state and national advisory councils and boards, including MENTOR’s Mentoring Partnership Advisory Council. She has been a driving partner in the implementation of the National Dropout Prevention Network’s Annual At-Risk Youth National Forum, held each February in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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