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Monday, September 24, 2007

Greenville Schools Sending a Message

Greenville sending message it cares about students

Published: Monday, September 24, 2007 - 2:00 am

By Judy Snyder

Last month, 150 teachers, school administrators and volunteers from
numerous local businesses and community organizations tried a unique
approach to raising the number of students who will graduate from high
school. They visited the homes of the students who failed to show up for
school during the first week at two local high schools.
These dedicated individuals wanted to send a message that the Greenville
community sees value in every young person and cares about their
education. Families found total strangers at their doors saying we want
your sons and daughters to be in school because it is important to them
and important to the welfare of our entire community.
This event put a public face to Graduate Greenville -- a community
effort to raise graduation rates. But it is just one of several
strategies and actions that Graduate Greenville is initiating to solve
the problem of dropouts in Greenville County through a partnership of
Greenville County Schools, The Alliance for Quality Education and United
Way of Greenville County.
Graduate Greenville is based on the three R's of Rigor, Relevance and
Relationships. Not only do we believe all young people can learn but we
believe they have the right to a challenging curriculum that prepares
them for the workplace or further education. We believe that curriculum
can be made relevant to the times in which these young people live. We
also believe that every young person deserves a strong relationship with
an adult who cares for them and will help them dream big and attain
those dreams.

We realize that many students need extra support on the way to attaining
the prize of a high school diploma, and it is our goal at Graduate
Greenville to give that support. To accomplish this, Graduate Greenville
is involved in the following additional activities:
Identifying potential dropouts during the transition from middle school
to high school.
Providing summer enrichment programs for identified students to give
them the tools and the self-confidence to be successful in the 9th
Training for teachers to increase their effectiveness with disengaged
Providing students at targeted schools with a "graduation coach" to act
as an advocate and go-between with teachers, to build a relationship of
trust with the student and the student's family, and to provide
counseling and academic support and encouragement.
Matching up struggling students with community mentors through Big
Brothers Big Sisters of the Upstate.
Researching and developing alternative programs for students to earn a
Providing information and support to students, parents and the community
through a soon-to-be-announced 24/7 telephone line and Web site.
Advocating for the involvement of the community in the solution of this
priority community problem.
All of these activities are taking place because Graduate Greenville
teams made up of leaders from the Greenville County Schools, the
business community and numerous other groups meet on a regular basis to
discuss, plan and implement ways to involve the citizens of Greenville
County in keeping our students in school until they graduate. The door
is being opened for these students, but only a community-wide effort can
make it possible for all of our children to pass through that door to
the success of graduation and beyond.

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