LCHS tries new approach to help students succeed

September 08, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Students at Lincoln County High School, struggling against a high dropout and retention rate, are now receiving help through a newly implemented advising system. According to head Principal Ty Howard, the program has met with enthusiastic approval from staff and students.

"The whole idea is to make it more personable for the kids. They are coming here and getting lost in a sea of 1,100," said Howard. Last spring, only 200 of the original 340 students who started out as freshmen four years ago graduated. The number of students held back each year has consistently been above area averages.

"We found we were having a big problem here, and we were going to have to address it," said Howard.

The new program limits the student/adviser ratio to about 20 to one.

"A lot of kids up here, if they don't bond with a teacher, they don't feel they have anyone to turn to," said Paula Playforth, lead program adviser and math teacher.


Howard said the new program helps facilitate a student-teacher bond, outlines specific program goals, and teaches lessons students are actually interested in, such as courage, honor and future planning.

Each freshman given student planner

Each freshman is given a student planner that includes single-page lessons on topics such as punctuality and tolerance. Quotes from well-know authors, politicians and speakers are incorporated into lessons taught every other Tuesday for 30 minutes. Freshmen to seniors, each class attends the advising lessons, with the program outlined by week in a large black resource binder given to each teacher. The program has been funded in part by a federal planning grant.

"We worked really hard this summer to improve it," said Playforth. During the summer vacation, six teachers worked to complete the program binders, which include biographies of quoted people, video segments teaching civility, and program lesson goals.

"It's a one-on-one bonding thing, and they (teachers) stay with these kids all four years," said Playforth. "It's a smaller setting, that really helps. Also, we have found teachers are more involved because they know what these lesson objectives are. They can say, 'this is what page we're on, this is where we're going.'"

"I feel like they (students) have been real receptive to having that one teacher they can go to," said adviser Melissa Jones. "I feel if a problem arises or they have a question, the first person they turn to is their adviser."

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