A recent article on NOLA.com discussed overage students in New Orleans high schools. According the the article: “The proportion of overage students — those who have been retained for at least one grade — hovers around 40 percent for New Orleans high school students, according to an analysis of 2014 data by researchers at Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, which is based at Tulane University. Forty-six percent of twelfth-graders were at least one year older than their peers.” (See the full text here: http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2018/01/overage_students_new_orleans_e.html)
At Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans, we work with students who are overage and empower then to stay in school (or return to school after stopping-out) and complete their high school education. One such student is Timothy.*
Timothy was only making it to school 1 day a week. At 18 years old and still in the 9th grade, school wasn’t his priority because it couldn’t be. Timothy joined a gang at just 11 years old because his family needed money, and he was too young to get any type of legal employment. Timothy has witnessed more violent crimes at a young age than most adults will in their lifetime.
Things started to change for Timothy when he met Christine, the Communities In Schools (CIS) Site Coordinator at his high school. It took over 6 months for Christine to gain Timothy’s trust, but once she did, she was able to counsel him and help him make sense of the chaos around him. Timothy is trying to “get out of the game,” and is looking for lawful work. He has also progressed in school.
Timothy is finding stability and succeeding in school. He attends school at least 4 days a week, a dramatic improvement in his attendance. Timothy says that Christine is one of the reasons he comes to school more regularly, because he knows she’ll be looking for him. The relationship between Timothy and Christine shows that by providing students with a consistent one-on-one relationship with a caring adult, CIS creates a safe place for them to learn and grow.
*Student is using a pseudonym for confidentiality.