In a low income district where poverty is pervasive a large grant will fight high school drop out rate increases, making a difference in the lives of many students.
In Greenville County, English is the second language for many students and poverty affects most families. An innovative program is underway which combines the resources of the school district, United Way of Greenville, and the Riley Institute of Furman University which will detect when student begin the descent toward the path which eventually results in dropping out of school.
The $3 million grant will be used along with other funds that could total $15 million over five years to find students who are at risk of dropping out and create interventions through the school and community.
Research shows that students often make the decision to drop out surprisingly early, between fifth and eighth grades.
They mentally check out in middle school, though they don’t physically leave until high school, said Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools.
The partnership plans to build a real-time database of information on each student that will act as an early warning system for teachers and school counselors to recognize when students are beginning to veer off path.
A myriad of circumstances outside of the classroom affect how students perform in school, Royster said.
“The quicker we can identify there’s an issue and get them to someone else who can really help them with that issue, then the quicker we can get them re-engaged in school,” he said.
The United Way can then step in to offer support through medical care, transportation, housing or mentoring, said Ted Hendry, United Way president.