Berrien County fights drop out rate - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Berrien County fights drop out rate

December 4, 2006

Berrien County - Statistics show almost 2500 students drop out of US high schools every day.

19 year-old James Keefe became one of those students when he dropped out of Berrien County High school.  "People wanted to do other stuff besides school and I did it.  We figured it wasn't cool or something," Keefe says.

A few months later he found himself an inmate in the Berrien County jailhouse and deeply regretting his decisions. "Do you wish you stayed in school?" asks reporter Alicia Eakin.

"I do," Keefe answers.  "I wish I did."

In fact, over 80 percent of inmates in the jail are high school drop outs.

So the state decided to fight back and brought in a graduation coach in attempts to reduce this number.  "I work with students individually to make sure they're on target for graduation and those that aren't, I pull them in and for one on one time.  Sometimes if they need to talk, I talk," says Berrien County High School graduation coach Sheila Hendley.

Since joining Berrien High school this year, she has helped countless students stay in school.

But with 40 percent of the students still walking away without a diploma, it's sometimes a daunting task for just one.  "That's probably the most frustrating day you can spend is losing one and knowing that nothing you did could convince them to want to stay," Hendley adds.

But seeing a major improvement in test scores and the graduation rate has kept her going.  "Three years ago we were at 50 percent.  Now we're at 58, almost 59 percent.  And if the data holds forth like we believe it will, it looks like we've got a real good change of going over 70 percent in the graduating classes in May."

They now hope more schools will follow their lead to keep kids in school, off the streets and out of jail.  "It ain't worth it, dropping out!  Stay in there!" Keefe exclaims.

This is the first year the graduation coach program has been implement in Georgia Schools.  There are about 400 coaches throughout the state.

Hiring a graduation coach at Berrien High School is just one of the many programs they've begun to help increase the graduation rate and test scores.

The School has also begun after school tutoring, individual mentoring program with teachers, cram sessions and an eight week course for juniors getting ready to take graduation tests.

Teachers say that since the programs began, students have had an easier time with the test producing better test scores.  "It helps a lot. You get to question and talk to the students, look at the areas that they're having difficulties and explain and reinforce," says Louis Burns, a Science teacher at Berrien High.

High School faculty and staff hope to implement even more programs in the near future.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=dropouts/Eakin

  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • The Latest: Irma weakens into a tropical depression

    The Latest: Irma weakens into a tropical depression

    Monday, September 11 2017 3:27 AM EDT2017-09-11 07:27:29 GMT
    Tuesday, September 12 2017 2:42 AM EDT2017-09-12 06:42:09 GMT
    Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.More >>
    Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.More >>
  • Where to celebrate Museum Day Live! in SWGA

    Where to celebrate Museum Day Live! in SWGA

    Thursday, September 21 2017 10:47 AM EDT2017-09-21 14:47:21 GMT
    The Thronateeska Heritage Center is one of four locations in SWGA participating (Source: WALB)The Thronateeska Heritage Center is one of four locations in SWGA participating (Source: WALB)

    This weekend, families across the nation have an opportunity to visit some of their favorite museums free - with a Museum Day Live! ticket. 

    More >>

    This weekend, families across the nation have an opportunity to visit some of their favorite museums free - with a Museum Day Live! ticket. 

    More >>
  • Input needed to revitalize Tifton's Matt Wilson area

    Input needed to revitalize Tifton's Matt Wilson area

    Thursday, September 21 2017 10:15 AM EDT2017-09-21 14:15:16 GMT
    Community leaders want to make some improvements to this area known as New Front (Source: WALB)Community leaders want to make some improvements to this area known as New Front (Source: WALB)

    After a successful revitalization of downtown Tifton, community leaders say they're ready to take on a new project. They're now going to focus on the Phillipsburg and Unionville neighborhood near Matt Wilson Elementary School.

    More >>

    After a successful revitalization of downtown Tifton, community leaders say they're ready to take on a new project. They're now going to focus on the Phillipsburg and Unionville neighborhood near Matt Wilson Elementary School.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly