Students get coached for graduation - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Students get coached for graduation

August 11, 2006

Albany -- Lots of coaches walk the halls of Georgia schools. They help students excel at football and basketball and other sports.

This year all public high schools in the state will have a new kind of coach to help students excel in the classroom.

This is something new that Gov. Sonny Perdue pushed and state lawmakers passed this year. Graduation coaches will look at the records of each student and give extra help to those at-risk of not graduating.

When you think of a high school coach, most would picture a person with a sports team, but that's not the case for this coach.

"Get out of high school, go on to college. Let's get you graduated," said Cindy Neal.

Graduation Coach Cindy Neal taught high school Spanish for four years.

Her goal now is pushing students toward graduation.

"We will do this by finding all of the people that are having any kind of risks associated with graduation, it can be failing high school graduation tests, it could be failing classes, losing credits, problems at home," said Cindy Neal.

 Students say that when they hit the books during high school there are many distractions that can get in the way. But with extra help from counselors or other teachers at school, it really makes a difference.

"They try to help me with study habits and keep me on track," said junior Matt Peters.

"High school is filled with drama, there's a lot of drama that can keep you away from your schoolwork," said sophomore Natalie

When students lose focus on their work, Coach Neal comes into play.

"Are you going to pass your classes? And stay on track for graduation?" said Cindy Neal.

Neal says what she wants most is to see these students walk the stage at the end of each year, and students say they want the same.

"To make money I need a job so I have to go school," said sophomore Tempest Campbell.

So as these students take the steps to better their future...

"Their just like your own babies, your own children and it's so exciting to see them walk across that stage and get that diploma," said Cindy Neal.

Their graduation coach will be there to cheer them on along the way.

Governor Perdue hopes the initiative will help create a more qualified workforce and help bring in new jobs.

According to the Center for Education, 488,000 American students dropped out of high school last year. 24,000 of those were from Georgia.

Graduation coaches are already at work at three of the four high schools in Dougherty County. The state pays about 40-thousand dollars of each graduation coach's salary. The rest comes from the county where they work.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=GraduationCoaches/NJ