Schools begin drop-out prevention initiative

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA. (WWBT) - Richmond's school superintendent is hoping to drop the dropout rate.

"We're going to actually go door to door and try to find our drops outs. And encourage them to come," said Yvonne Brandon, Richmond Superintendent.

And that's just one step in a new multi layered approach to get kids to stay in school. The school system has named the Adult Career and Development Center as a home base for getting drop outs back in the system. Individual learning plans will be developed and the former dropouts will be paired up with mentors.

"Who know the benefits of education, who can talk to them, and tell stories, and help them connect to those persons and school at the same time," said Brandon.

Mariah Kelley told the crowded room, she dropped out of school in the eleventh grade.

"It was more of the people I hung with and they kind of brought my motivation down cause they were acting out," said Kelley.

She eventually went back and graduated. She's now enrolled at J Sergeant Reynolds. She has one message for others thinking of dropping out.

"Don't be stupid. You want to be able to take care of your parents. You want to have a great future. You want to make sure your family is straight and healthy," Kelley said.

At the beginning of this school year Richmond had 2,700 no shows. They've since decreased that number to 400.

"It's going to take intervention. And to have staff. The way we were able to do this without it costing us. We're going to redistribute staff. It's very, very exciting," said Donald Coleman, Richmond School Board Member.

Richmond's superintendent says she won't be happy until the dropout rate is zero. She thinks it's something that can be reached and she hopes to be back here next year reporting an even lower dropout rate.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.