Friday, August 24, 2007

Something That Should Be On the District's Radar

This article appeared in this week's NY Times. It is about NYC's efforts, among the first in the country with large sums of money attached, to help drop-outs finish high school without being in a class with 14-year olds (and all the embarassment/problems therein).

I loved this story from the article:

"For those who work with these students, one of the most difficult tasks is convincing them that they can, and should, finish high school. “These are students who are really frustrated and ready to be out,” said Edita Volovodovskaya, who runs the John Adams Young Adult Borough Center, which is attached to John Adams High School. “But it takes a lot of work. They weren’t always willing to take a full load; they weren’t always willing to show up to class.”

That was precisely how David Dorsey behaved when he first started at the center. He was already 19 and half-heartedly thought he would have another shot at a diploma. But there were long stretches when he did not bother to show up. Then his phone would begin to ring. His counselor, a social worker from a local community center, called every day that he was absent.

“Finally I decided to pick up the phone, and this woman is on the other end saying, ‘Where are you? Get in here,’ ” Mr. Dorsey said. “I just decided to show up to get her off my back — otherwise she was going to be on my phone bill a lot.” He graduated at 21 and has now finished a semester at La Guardia Community College."

That's a teacher/administrator for you; someone who cares enough to want you to get he or she off your back. Even if this young man doesn't finish community college, that social worker taught him a good life lesson.


Anonymous said...

The district should take a close look at the alternative schools report that came out this summer. Many programs incorporate support systems similar to the schools mentioned in this article, especially the Interagency program.

The agency connected to the school site where I teach provides case management, chemical dependency counseling, and mental health services to students that need such services, all at no cost to the district. It also has a clothing bank and provides emergency financial assistance for things like state ID, food handler permits, and personal care items.

We are fairly successful at moving these students on to jobs and community college.

I hope the task force chaired by Barbara Moore will be able to develop a more comprehensive plan to address the needs of these students.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to read the report.

Anonymous said...

I see the same thing consistently at the SSSC Middle College - the four teachers up there ROCK - lost my own niece to drop-out after two chances there but not for lack of effort on the school's part. But have recc'd and seen huge gains successful completion of HS from others known for years - in fact, hired one of their current students which they have worked with her schedule to accomodate work - on her own since 16 and self-supporting with all that entails with no real job skills before other than tenaciousness [sic]

Alonzo, Michael, Patty and their other teacher just moved on to SPU to teach this year. Their graduation this year was rowdy and extraordinary in its hard fought success stories.

Rigorous curricula, huge doses of tough love and attention, reality checks on a regular basis with the kids - cannot say enough good about these fine fabulous, committed committable teachers.

This program at extremely low cost as SSSC provides space at no cost to SPS and many go on to college as well as dip their feet into running start for a class or two before graduation.

They need more money and resources and a full-time counselor.