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Graduation coach assisting PC students

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
PHIL CAMPBELL – Phil Campbell High School was chosen among 25 other schools throughout Alabama in 2007 to receive a grant to assist in the national dropout crisis.
The Alabama Department of Education implemented The Dropout Prevention Advisor Program to help decrease the number of students who drop out of school and increase the number of students who graduate. Twenty-five schools throughout the state of Alabama were initially chosen to implement the grant but more were added in the 2007-2008 school year. The schools with a graduation rate lower than 95 percent during the 2006-2007 school year were most considered for the DPA grant. Phil Campbell was the only school within North Alabama to receive the grant.
"The Dropout Prevention Adviser is much like a graduation coach," said State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton.
"They are at these schools to guide, direct and encourage students. In short, do whatever it takes to get every student to graduate."
As Phil Campbell High School's Dropout Prevention Advisor, Tina King, and many others quickly noticed that students were not receptive in the beginning because as one student said, "I'm not dropping out!"
So soon, the name was changed from Dropout Prevention Advisor to Graduation Coach. Instead of just trying to keep students from dropping out, the coaches are preparing them for graduation and beyond.
King first began identifying potential dropouts by determining what students had not passed the graduation exams, had failed classes and/or accumulated numerous absences.
Throughout 2007-2008 King spent a great deal of her time reaching out to students, gathering resources, preparing for the graduation exam and making herself available to both parents and teachers. She also created a school website (www.franklin.k12.al.us/pchs/index.htm ) to promote home-school relations.
The website contains valuable information including graduation exam and scholarship resources for students as well as resources for parents and teachers.
This school year, Phil Campbell High School has had the opportunity to partner with SouthernCare Home Health to provide service learning opportunities to the students. The Future Teachers of Alabama spread a little Christmas cheer to patients this holiday season by delivering goodie bags and singing Christmas carols to receptive patients.
The students found the community service project to be very rewarding and look forward to working with Southern Care and hospice patients in the future.
Amy Gunderman, the Family and Consumer Science teacher, and her classes have been baking cakes each month for patients living in the Franklin County area. Donna Wells, a resource teacher, and her students have folded brochures, and made art projects for the patients of Southern Care, including Christmas ornaments.
Darren Welborn, the Business Technology teacher, and his classes have helped with typing and printing projects throughout the school year.
The service-learning projects have been valuable learning experiences for every student and teacher involved.
According to Donna Clark, the Volunteer Coordinator at Southern Care, "These students have been a true blessing to myself, our staff and most of all our patients."