Communities in Schools sees continued success

  • Saturday, October 26, 2013

In honor of Communities In Schools’ 25th anniversary in Charleston, the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization released a report demonstrating the program’s impact on dropout rates, highlighted by local success stories. Also, an integrated print, digital and television public awareness campaign launched in the Charleston Area, featuring young people from around the country who have graduated from high school as a result of their involvement with Communities In Schools.

“Our organization focuses on each student’s particular needs and providing him or her with the services and support that help clear the way to academic and social success,” said Jane Riley Gambrell, executive director of Communities in Schools of the Charleston Area in the new report, entitled Changing the Picture of Education in Charleston for 25 Years. “We help them see a future that is open to them and full of opportunity.”

Every 26 seconds, a young person in America drops out of school. When students drop out, they are more likely to end up in poverty, suffer poor health, be dependent on social services, enter the criminal justice system and cost the U.S. billions of dollars each year in lost revenue and increased spending on government assistance programs. To change the picture in the Charleston Area, Communities In Schools is serving more than 13,000 students in 30 schools this year.

According to the new report, Communities In Schools of the Charleston Area achieved the following during the 2012-13 school year:

• 10 elementary schools and 13 secondary schools (middle, high and combined) were served. • 10,491 students received integrated student supports from Communities In Schools of the Charleston Area; 9,049 students received Level One or school-wide prevention services and 1,442 students received Level Two targeted and sustained interventions.

• 95.5 percent of seniors who received targeted and sustained services (and for whom data were available) graduated. Of those 69.4 percent were accepted into college and 7.5 percent planned to join the military.

• 94 percent of the students in grades K - 11 who received targeted and sustained services (and for whom data were available) were promoted to the next grade.

The report also features interviews with: Andrew Halevi, Ph.D., principal of Septima P. Clark Corporate Academy, where 100 percent of the kids are at-risk, and Aimee Lassor, M.Ed., LPC, who is the New Morning Foundation-Communities In Schools Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator at four high schools in Charleston. “A teacher may be with a student all day long, but that teacher may not know the student doesn’t have electricity or running water, or that the father just abandoned the family,” she said. Also featured is Erica Lawer, a junior at the University of South Carolina Upstate, who credits Communities In Schools for her academic success.

To raise awareness about Communities In Schools, a public awareness campaign was launched this month in three cities including Charleston, Jacksonville, Fla, and San Antonio, Texas. Featuring short videos by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris and photos by renowned photographer David Harriman, TV, print and online ads around the city are shining a spotlight on the sometimes surprising reasons why students drop out of school. These videos and images are online at changethepicture.org and will be running until the end of the year in The Charleston Post and Courier, local bus stations, movie theaters, cable TV stations and other local outlets.

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