Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grant Helps Students with Children Graduate High School

By Annette Baird/Memorial Community Extra
Published 9:05 am, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Among the nearly two dozen recipients of grants that the nonprofit Spring Branch Education Foundation gives out twice a year in Spring Branch ISD, nowhere is the effort to support students more profound than the district's school-age parent program, which focuses on students who have children.

The program helps the student have a better shot at making a life for herself and helps the child to face a better future.

"Obviously we are about student support and education, and we want to see them through graduation," said Patricia Waldrop, the district's community relations coordinator who oversees the program.

"We offer as much support as possible to lessen the hurdles to graduate and emphasize the importance of coming to school and completing their education and getting a means to have earning power."

The foundation donated about $2,700 in December, which went toward portable infant equipment, a requirement for the district's daycare facility, and laptops for students.

Waldrop said every bit of additional money helps their program and also shines a light on the district's efforts to support these young women, who in any given school year number between 80 and 90.

This semester, Waldrop said they have 48 school-age parents.

"The appealing thing with this is it plays right into T-2-4," said Cece Thompson, the foundation's executive director.

"We strongly believe as a board that giving every student every opportunity to graduate so they can go into some type of secondary education is so important ."

T-2-4 refers to the district's goal initiated by former superintendent Duncan Klussmann to double the number of students who graduate from the district and go on to complete a two or four-year degree, technical certification or military training by 2017.

Like Waldrop, Thompson said they want to help reduce the number of obstacles students must face to graduate.

Waldrop estimated 80 to 85 percent of the young women who become parents graduate from the district.

She credited the district's support services, which include the social workers who work with students to help them access services through Community Use, a social services program on some high school campuses. Students can access health services, WIC, parenting classes, legal services and funding for childcare.

The district provides teachers for homebound students as needed, childcare from infancy at Wildcat Way School, 12754 Kimberley Lane, and transportation to and from Wildcat Way and back to the student's school campus for classes.

In addition, social workers provide encouragement and support in the form of parent counseling groups, depending on the needs of the students at each campus.

Waldrop said the district also recently appointed a facilitator, assigned to track the parents, lifting some of the burden off the social workers.

"We are lucky with this district to be able to offer these services," Waldrop said.

"I'm extremely thankful to transportation that does an amazing job of assisting us to get these students back and forth.

"A lot of people play into this program that helps kids stay in school."

Meanwhile, Waldrop also works to prevent teen pregnancy, using the state approved Abstinence Plus program to inform students about sexuality, health and birth control.

The foundation, which partners with the district and community to fund programs that enhance education and prepare students for the future, in December awarded 22 grants out of 28 applications, worth a total of $98,567.

Visit the SBEF site >>


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