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Catching Dropouts Before They Fall


What if there were someone at each high school whose only responsibility was to keep students from dropping out?

That’s the job description of 363 newly minted “graduation coaches” in Georgia, but the description is the only easy part of the work: about a third of the state’s high school students never make it to commencement.

“Figuring out the best way to do this job has been a constant challenge,” says Kim Stewart, a former English teacher and guidance counselor who became North Gwinnett High School’s graduation coach when the program was launched this year. “But I’m allowed the creativity to plan a program and come up with the best ways to help students.”


I think graduation coaches are a fantastic concept for at risk kids. My daughter was falling further and further behind. Had no desire to finish high school until a counslor recommended an alternative or virtual school. The alternative school record was horrible and not worth the drive or time and my daughter wasn't driven enough for the virtual. She was ready to drop out. Finally a transition counslor (graduation coach)stepped in and interviewed her to find out she loved animals. She set up a 3 hour core class schedule and then she went to the animal shelter to volunteer for her 3 hour elective classes. She loved it. She loved it so much she has made up one semester of classes and has entered into animal grooming course and will be certified by the end of the year. Although I had to pay for that course, what a difference this child feels about herself and her future. She still has one year to finish to graduate but she is talking about college courses so she can start her own business in animal grooming and kennel care.
Thank you Diane Yeager, DPS graduation coach!!

Sounds like a great idea! Is the position funded by the state and do they have one at each school or in smaller districts is there one per district?

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