By RANDY TATANO
Special Atmore News
Currently, there are 260 seniors in the three secondary schools in Escambia County. And when they return from the Christmas holidays, each of them will work with a personal advisor.
The goal is not only to ensure that every student graduates, but also has a ‘titular’ in one of six subject areas designed to help graduates prepare for life after high school. There are six “college and career readiness indicators” that show that students with a degree have a better chance of success.
Career Tech Director Shawn Butler spearheads the program, assigning counselors to work with students. The 31 advisers are directors, deputy directors, a superintendent, an operations assistant and senior staff, who will each work with eight seniors.
“It’s a very individualized approach to working with students, personally, face to face. Our goal is to build relationships, to get students to cross the finish line, ”said Butler.
The low eight-to-one ratio means seniors will receive a lot of time and attention with counselors.
The six indicators are:
- Obtain a benchmark score in any area on the ACT College Entrance Exam
- Obtain a qualifying score of 3 or more on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam
- Earning college credits in high school
- Achieve a silver or gold level on the ACT WorkKeys exam
- Earn a professional degree in technical industry, or
- Be accepted into the army
The goal is to have 100 percent of seniors accredited in at least one of the fields. Some are already accredited, such as students enrolled in duplicate in college courses. Others who have after school jobs may be considered accredited depending on where they work. Superintendent Michele McClung is convinced that the program will be an important factor in a student’s success after graduation.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to engage with students in a way where we can mentor them and help make a difference in their future through accreditation,” she said.
Butler noted that counselors will also determine if a student needs help in a specific area.
“If a student is close to achieving a goal and needs a tutor, we will have the tutoring,” he said. “If a student shows computer skills, we could get the Microsoft Office suite.”
Being accredited will not only look good on a resume, but will also expose students to real-life experiences after graduation.
Butler added that it was easy to convince counselors to enroll in the program, as some in administrative positions started out as teachers.
“They miss the children,” he said. “You study because you enjoy working with and helping children. “
Getting senior accreditation tells students that graduation isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
Randy Tatano, a resident of Brewton, is a television news veteran and network producer. He is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System.