An initiative to improve the high school graduation rates of Bartholomew County students is closer to beginning with the hiring of two team leaders and the training of graduation coaches they will oversee.
Christy Boes and Angela Stiverson have been hired by Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin to serve as team leaders for the iGrad program.
The mission of iGrad is to provide students with the resources they need to graduate from high school and to achieve a 100 percent high school graduation rate in the county by 2017.
About 20 percent of students who start high school in Bartholomew County do not finish in four years, according to Indiana Department of Education data. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s graduation rate has slipped in the past two years to 80.6 percent, more than 5 percentage points below the state average.
Boes, a 1991 Columbus East High School graduate, said she views this as a way to give back to her hometown, after working with struggling students at the Atterbury Job Corps Center in Edinburgh and the IndyPendence Job Corps Center in Indianapolis.
“So many of the students I worked with were told they couldn’t do it, they would amount to nothing. ... I think with this message I am saying, ‘You can do this,’” Boes said.
Ivy Tech, Cummins Inc. and the Community Education Coalition joined forces to create a support system for struggling students. Cummins is contributing $500,000 and the Education Coalition $250,000 to fund the program.
Boes and Stiverson will supervise nine part-time graduation coaches, seven of whom have been hired and are undergoing training, said Danielle Brandon, the iGrad program director and Ivy Tech’s assistant vice chancellor of student affairs. Eight coaches will work with BCSC students and one with Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. students.
Initially, the coaches will work directly with the at-risk students while the team leaders provide support, advice and guidance. The help extends to the incoming eighth-graders, who are the Class of 2017.
Boes and Stiverson stood out among the applicants, Brandon said.
“Both seem to have a natural understanding of what we’re doing with the program,” Brandon said.
Stiverson, who grew up in Wisconsin and has lived and worked in northern Indiana since 1993, has an extensive background working with college students who need remedial help.
She said it is important for students to have the right outlook in order to graduate.
“I think the biggest thing is to have a future outlook and future orientation, ... helping them get to where they want to get to,” Stiverson said. “The choices they make now do have effects.”
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