By: | WSAV-TV
Published: February 28, 2012
Staying in school, for some, its simple. For others, just getting there each day is a challenge.
That's why the Candler County school district has banded together to give kids a chance at a good education, and a better life.
Computers, kids, teachers.
It's a normal, everyday classroom in Metter High School. But for the kids inside -- they are learning more than just math and science.
"Without them, without her and Miss Bridget and Miss Paige," explains Deontae Scott, a Metter High School Senior. "I probably wouldn't be here today saying all this."
It's a team effort between programs.
Communities in Schools helping kids get to school and get what they need to learn. The academic success center working to teach them what they need to graduate.
"They deserve to have a healthy start and a healthy future," said Debbie Aylmer, Executive Director of Candler County Communities in Schools.
"For me, I want to know when you leave here that you are going to be a productive citizen," said Roseanne Ferrell, Coordinator of the Academic Success Center at Metter High School. "You are going to go on and be who you were called to be, not just be a high school graduate."
As the coordinator of the Academic Success Center at Metter High, Roseanne Ferrell is logged into what her kids need to stay on track.
"When you walk in here, you know there is someone who loves you," explained Ferrell.
That love makes a difference to students.
"I was getting lazy with my work, didn't care for school," explained Metter Senior Mary Ann Mendez.
"Following the wrong crowd, doing my own thing,' said Deontae. "Didn't want to listen to the teachers, didn't do anything right, didn't want to come to school."
So the schools found a way to work with them.
Roseanne and her staff learn the lessons with kids, giving them a hands on feel for one block or all day.
It doesn't matter if you are a AP student or at risk, they get the same treatment and support.
"When I go into meetings and they ask me this percentage, that percentage, I'm really dumbfounded," said Roseanne. "But I can tell you the names. I can tell you what kid I'm working with. I can tell you their successes, I can tell you their failures, because it's personal."
That personal touch extends outside of the classroom. Through their community partners, The Communities in School program helps with clothes, food, tutoring, getting them to the classroom, so they only have to think about learning.
"We let the schools do what they do best, educate the students," explained Aylmer. "We just try to meet the needs to support them, that way we're supporting the schools. That way we have more kids walking across the stage in May."
And as the walls of pictures and lists of completed classes show, the combination works.
96% improved their attendance and
91% improved in at least one class.
The graduation rate for these students has improved from 59% in 2008 to 81.5% last year.
And the hope is their Wall of Fame will keep adding pictures, growing with more and more graduates.
"I feel accomplished that I didn't waste 12 years of my life doing anything," smiles Mary Ann.
"It means a lot to me," says a smiling Deontae. "I tell my mama I want to cry because I've come so far."
Thanks to their hard work and help from the program, Deontae and Mary are both now on track to graduate this year on time.
View the story and video on WSAV TV's website
This article used with specific permission by Kevin Brennan
WSAV News Director February 29, 2012