Summer school for teen parents is an opportunity for students to finish their education and claim their future, gaining job experience and preparing for the workplace. 

In New Orleans, 19 year old Rikita Huland planned to  graduate from Landry-Walker High School in Algiers.  She thought she would go to college and work in early childhood development. After she started her career, she figured, she would have a baby of her own.

Summer School for Teen Parents

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Early childhood development came first, in a very direct way. “He’s here now. I’m just making the best of it,” she said Wednesday, dangling a rattle at Landry-Walker as her son, Lloyal Young, 9 months, stared at visitors out of big, almond-shaped eyes. In fact, he’s increased her motivation. “I want to be successful for him,” she said.

Ainta Brown, 17, shared the sentiment. Becoming a mother to Devon McGrew, now 8 months, “made me feel like I had to step up,” she said. So did Dajia Franklin, 17, mother of 18-month-old Trinity. “I had a baby,” she said, “but it’s not stopping me from what I want to do.”

Although the teen birth rate is falling in New Orleans, there still were 39 births for every 1,000 15- to 19-year-old women in the city in 2011, according to the KidsCount database. About 70 of Landry-Walker’s 1,240 students were parents last year. Principal Mary Laurie is a role model of sorts; she, too, had her first child in high school.

“You can’t just throw these kids to the side because they made a mistake,” Landry-Walker social worker Fran Pursell said.

Summer School for Teen Parents

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Which is why 17 of those teen parents, even this summer, are spending all day at the school in literacy and child-care classes. Landry-Walker and the Center for Development and Learning are piloting a program to help them stay in school, improve their children’s lives and prepare for the workplace. They will earn 90 hours toward a Child Development Association certificate to work in day-care centers.

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