At Street School, we have students who range in age from 14 to 19 and have valid reasons for physically or mentally dropping out of school. These reasons include homelessness, a variety of abuse, family dysfunction, poverty or taking on adult roles in their families. With reasons like these, it is easy to see how surviving is more important than getting an education. The fact that they have the fortitude to come to school is amazing.
For the past four years, our graduation rate for this at-risk population averages 96%. And, 95% of our students are going on to two-year colleges or continuing with technical school. We are finding that what works is our counseling approach. Every student is assigned a counselor and required to meet with their counselor at minimum of one hour per week. The ratio of student to counslor is 15:1.
The individual approach to create an atmosphere that these kids matter and that we will fill the void of emotional support traditionally provided by family is working. We strive to break the cycle of generational poverty and teach our students to become tax contributors instead of tax consumers. The financial cost associated with this style of alternative education is minor considering the returned investment over the students' lifetimes as a contributing member of society.
We have a waiting list of students who want to attend Street School. We want to take more, but we are at capacity. We want to replicate our program to extend our reach in helping the drop out crisis. But, it takes a village . . .and funding. And, only 22% of our funding comes in the form of Government grants and fees. The rest, we raise on our own.
Is anyone else having success in your drop-out prevention programs you can share? Does anyone else have a counseling program in place that is working? The more we share, the larger our village becomes.