Sandy Garrett's Weekly Column
“Community involvement is so important. The community backs you. They back every sport and they also need to back the students. … [And, in turn,] schools need to invite the community in. We need mentors, volunteers, businesses and churches…”www.sde.state.ok.us. The Web site has information about the high school dropout crisis facing every state; resources include a powerful video featuring Oklahoma students, dropouts and graduates.
Carly Cox, a senior at Altus High School and member of the State Superintendent’s Advisory Council, in those few words summed up the focus of the state’s Dropout Summit, “OK Graduation: DO IT” on March 25.
Summit participants – which included educators, parents, students, business and community leaders, lawmakers and Carly’s peers on the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council – gathered at Oklahoma Christian University, in Edmond, to start defining a strategic plan to keep Oklahoma students in school, to chart the course for actually how Oklahoma schools and communities should “DO IT,” if you will.
The summit, hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education with funding from America’s Promise Alliance and State Farm Insurance, was focused on identifying prevention and intervention tactics that can be used in every school and community.
Participants expressed the need for additional counselors, more hands-on classes, teachers who were more engaging, fair and knowledgeable, and helping parents be more involved in each child’s education. Many agreed that having just one caring adult to listen, say a few encouraging words or mentor an at-risk student would make a world of difference in the student’s life.
One thing on which all agreed: A coordinated approach in every community is needed to better support students at risk of dropping out of school, and to recover those who already have done so.
That is why we are recruiting Dropout Intervention Team (DO IT) members from every school and community, large and small across the state.
Sign up today to be an OK Graduation: DO IT partner at the State Department of Education’s Web site
- Sandy Garett, state schools superintendent