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Laney hires specialist to reduce dropout rate

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Sharon Hill plans to tackle Laney High School's dropout rate one student at a time.

The Richmond County school board on Tuesday unanimously approved Hill's hiring as the school's dropout prevention specialist.

Hill's salary will be paid from the $1 million federal School Improvement Grant the school was awarded this year. Josey and Glenn Hills high schools were awarded similar grants.

In Laney's application for the grant, the school budgeted $60,000 for the position's salary and $15,000 for benefits.

Hill, 44, said after the meeting that she plans to focus on each student individually, not as a number.

"I plan to try to establish a rapport with the students who are identified as being at risk," she said. "I enjoy working with young people. ... I want to know how they work -- what shows they like, the music, the culture -- familiarize myself with it."

That way, Hill said, she can talk with students on their level, in terms they can relate to, and explain to them why it's important they stay in school. She also wants to reach out to their families and help them deal with the challenging out-of-school circumstances that can sometimes cause students to leave school.

She worked as a prison counselor for a few years and made the transition into education.

"I wanted to see them on this side of the criminal justice system, so I decided to move to the education system to be able to help students reach their goals and give them a vision and passion for life," she said.

Hill's job will not be easy. Laney's dropout rate was 8.2 percent in 2008-09, well above the state's 3.6 percent rate. Laney also has a low graduation rate: 56.6 percent in 2008-09, far below the state average of 78.9 percent.

"I'm not saying it's not going to be difficult," she said. "It is difficult, but it's not impossible."

Dr. Carol Rountree, the school system's executive director of student services, said after the meeting that Hill's ability to individually focus on at-risk students will be the key to her success.

"She is a very caring adult who is going to move beyond paper and really deal with the person," Rountree said. "We really do want a person whose background helps her identify with students, and that describes Ms. Hill."

In other action

The Richmond County school board took the following actions Tuesday:

- Awarded an $11,715 bid to Turner's Keyboards Inc. for two pianos to go in the Academy of Richmond County's new International Baccalaureate wing

- Awarded a $36,553 bid to Mark's Clearing and Grading of Hephzibah to remove asbestos from the Tubman School Druid Park Avenue buildings

- Approved the hiring of Wayne Johnston as the district's assistant director of renovation and construction

- Appointed the following people to the Transportation Council: Johnny Wingate and Quincy Jordan as business representatives, and Cassandra Stone as parent representative.

Comments (9) Add comment
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bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 09/22/10 - 08:26 am
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Ms. Hill...I wish you

Ms. Hill...I wish you luck...however these students have been hearing this "stay in school" talk since they were in first grade....but it's nice the board found you a job.

Dixieman
14941
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Dixieman 09/22/10 - 09:12 am
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Two words: Private school.

Two words: Private school.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/22/10 - 09:21 am
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In many cases new parents

In many cases new parents need to be hired instead. That would have the greatest effect on graduation rates.

canchita
0
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canchita 09/22/10 - 10:03 am
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Tackling Richmond County's

Tackling Richmond County's incredibly high teen pregnancy rate with evidence-based programs will help decreasd the drop out rate. 70% of teen moms NEVER graduate from high school. Only 2% EVER get a college degree. Every day 2 girls in Richmond County get pregnant. Something's got to change for our young people to have a bright future.

KingJames
10
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KingJames 09/22/10 - 11:14 am
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Dixieman, the parents can't

Dixieman, the parents can't afford private school. It's great if you can. You should still be concerned about the dropout rate at Laney. When kids dropout of school and have nothing else to do, it isn't long before they find somebody else's house to drop into and rob while the owner is at work.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 09/22/10 - 04:41 pm
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I remember when "graduation

I remember when "graduation coaches" were called "mom" or "dad."

ispy4u
0
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ispy4u 09/22/10 - 08:19 pm
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Naysayers never have

Naysayers never have solution, but do not mind demeaning others that try.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 09/22/10 - 09:03 pm
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Ispy, I have many solutions.

Ispy, I have many solutions. Spy on this... www.bryantforaugusta.com

DAMY46
0
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DAMY46 09/26/10 - 07:03 am
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Hire Sharon Hill?--All the

Hire Sharon Hill?--All the school board has to do is look across the street to see what needs to be done...ie: Turn Laney into another A.R. Johnson and all of their problems would be solved..While they are at it they could turn all of the high schools into magnet schools..All of their problems are solved..

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