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Mentors put focus on troubled Glenn Hills pupils

GLENN HILLS HIGH SCHOOL

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Three Richmond County high schools struggling with low student achievement and high absenteeism are using $1 million School Improvement Grants to usher in positive change. At Glenn Hills, teachers are mentoring at-risk students. T.W. Josey has hired a school counselor and extended instructional time, and Lucy C. Laney has offered training for teachers and invested in technology.

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Math teacher Adrianne Bogans (right) helps Rashayvia Miller with algebra during a summer mentoring session at Glenn Hills High School. The mentoring program was started last year.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Math teacher Adrianne Bogans (right) helps Rashayvia Miller with algebra during a summer mentoring session at Glenn Hills High School. The mentoring program was started last year.

Last year, Glenn Hills High School Principal Wayne Frazier asked students around campus to point out the leaders of the toughest gangs in the neighborhood.

But he wasn't looking to hand out suspensions.

He tracked down four teens to invite them on his houseboat for a day on the river.

On the boat, he told two rivals to sink their hands into one bowl to mash hamburger meat together into patties. Two others started the grill, side by side.

It was a different scenario from the gang violence that was a daily sight at Glenn Hills before Frazier took over as principal in 2009.

"Once they were out on the water, they didn't have one negative comment to each other," Frazier said.

In a school with students growing up in neighborhoods caught in a cycle of poverty, crime and broken homes, Frazier has developed an alternative approach to reaching students and subsequently raising student achievement.

His method pushes aside the obsession with standardized testing and hones in on addressing the social and emotional stress students carry with them to school every day.

With a $1 million federal School Improvement Grant awarded last year, Frazier had the money to pay every employee on campus to spend more hours doing the same type of mentoring for students.

"A lot of people don't understand the stresses on some of these children," Frazier said. "They're dealing with adult issues. If they're hungry, being abused, dealing with neighborhood stuff, if they're not ready to learn, it doesn't work."

The grant allowed for each employee, from teachers to custodians, to earn as much as $2,000 more a year for mentoring students.

Frazier required each employee to mentor two to three at-risk students throughout the year, which meant things such as home visits in the evenings, calling parents for check-ins and taking students to football games.

The efforts are meant to fill an emotional void that has fueled poor test scores and low graduation rates, Frazier said. When the causes of the emotional problems are fixed, the higher test scores will come, he said.

"We don't just say, 'Get to school, you're absent.' We find out why they're absent," he said.

The grant also helped purchase $170,000 in new technology, such as mobile computer labs and Promethean Activboards; provide more professional learning for teachers; and purchase materials for a rigorous curriculum to improve math skills and literacy.

Setting the stage

The outreach has drastically decreased fighting in the hallways -- Frazier counted two gang-related fights last year, down from dozens before 2009 -- and having teachers patrol hallways has convinced students to be in class before the bell rings.

Two other Richmond County high schools receiving the grant, T.W. Josey and Lucy C. Laney, are also putting a focus on social and emotional support, but their approaches aren't as invasive as Frazier's.

At the beginning of the school year, Frazier required employees to amend their contracts to pledge their commitment to mentoring. If a teacher had a second job in the evenings or was not willing to put in the work, he or she could not be an employee at Glenn Hills.

"For a teacher to be committed to this type of work, they're basically working out of compassion and being a good human being," Frazier said. "We're dealing with human lives here."

Acting Superintendent James Whitson said the School Improvement Grant gives schools a measure of autonomy to use money in ways they think would best fit their students.

Principals looked at student data, such as test scores, along with social issues to identify which areas needed the most attention, Whitson said.

"Any time that we can really encourage students to see that education is a stepping stone for the student ... and re- engage themselves in the learning process ... that's a good thing," Whitson said. "It doesn't really matter where that message comes from. It doesn't have to come from a counselor; it doesn't have to come from a principal."

Someone to talk to

For Shanequa Williams, who graduated from Glenn Hills in May, some of that support came from her home economics teacher, Melisa Clark.

As Williams' mentor, Clark visited the 19-year-old at home, took her out to eat and talked to her on the phone when things got difficult.

She went from a student who chronically skipped class to a graduate preparing to attend Augusta Technical College in the fall.

"A lot of young kids, if they have a single parent, they have to work all the time and they don't have a lot of people to talk to," Williams said. "When we had these mentors, we had someone to talk to."

Frazier said he envisions his school continuing to produce more such success stories even after the three-year grant runs out.

Measuring success

Because Glenn Hills met the first-year requirements of the grant, it was awarded a second year of funding: $885,296.

The school improved academically by increasing its graduation rate by 3 percentage points, according to preliminary data from Lynn Warr, the school system's executive director of high schools.

Though Glenn Hills did not increase its Georgia High School Graduation Test scores in math or language arts, it did improve by 7 percentage points in social studies, to a 56 percent passage rate, and maintained its 80 percent passage rate in science.

As also required by the grant, administrators held monthly parent nights and kept track of teacher meetings with parents through logs.

The 2010-11 federal Adequate Yearly Progress results have not yet been released, but Glenn Hills met the complicated benchmark in the 2009-10 school year for the first time since 2004.

Frazier said he has an even bigger vision for helping underprivileged students.

To combat low academic achievement, Frazier said he sees his school becoming a community school model, where the students' day spans from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., meals are eaten at school and all homework is done in class.

The angle is to help eliminate negative distractions and keep positivity in young people's lives.

At Glenn Hills, Frazier said that is doable.

"To me, the children, there's nothing wrong with them," he said. "Most of their problems are social and emotional. After we work in those parts, the rest is easy. Because of that, I very seldom talk about AYP, because that is a recipe to fail. What I talk about is every student succeeding at least one year academically, socially and emotionally. If every student succeeds in those, they will make AYP and PPP and SYP and all other acronyms you want."

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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 07/03/11 - 01:42 am
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Doc is correct.

Doc is correct.

Reverie
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Reverie 07/03/11 - 07:46 am
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Congratulations! The

Congratulations! The government has successfully turned teachers into social workers. I'm thrilled that teachers will mentor these kids who have social and emotional problems for only $2000. Why can't anyone in the community mentor these kids or are teachers specially qualified? Can parents get the $2000 if they mentor their kids?

Plumone
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Plumone 07/03/11 - 08:19 am
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Mr. Frazier you are on the

Mr. Frazier you are on the right track. Nothing can replace the positive time spent with a kid, no mater what the age. Next time take them fishing.

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 08:49 am
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The mentoring concept is

The mentoring concept is something I've been talking about forever on these boards. It works in these situations on so many levels and should be encouraged much as possible.

Something dramtic such as this has to be the norm in Richmond County schools. You can't have a handful of students in magnet schools doing well while the rest can't get a decent education. Personally, I'd close the magnet schools and get these superior students back in the neighborhood schools being role models for the others.

tango123
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tango123 07/03/11 - 08:57 am
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I believe that the mentoring

I believe that the mentoring of students should be the responsibility of the parents and the community. Teachers taking students out to eat, on boats, and to football games outside school function activities is not mentoring, I would like to know what is the position of the board of education on this particular issue. I can not believe that if a teacher needs a second job to help pay for a student loan, he or she can not work at a particular school. Maybe the mentoring could start by taking the students and the parents to the teacher second job so they can learn the responsibilities of life. That is mentoring at it's best.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/03/11 - 09:02 am
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You said------ Personally,

You said------ Personally, I'd close the magnet schools and get these superior students back in the neighborhood schools being role models for the others..........
The only wrong with that is the superior kids are held back....is that fair to them??
This is a good idea...mentor & show the kids a better way of life...some don't even see a parent for days.......abuse is a way of life for some......it is hard to fight with kids if you just went fishing & playing ball with them.jmo

hounddog
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hounddog 07/03/11 - 09:06 am
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"To me, the children, there's
Unpublished

"To me, the children, there's nothing wrong with them," he said. "Most of their problems are social and emotional.”
He is correct. The lack of parenting is obvious. Leaders in black churches and black communities and democrats are responsible.

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 09:09 am
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SeenitB4, there are only a

SeenitB4, there are only a tiny number of students at the magnet schools and the schools cost a fortune to run. I believe they could do as well in the regular schools and be a good influence. The Richmond County system has to be taken as a whole and it's in terrible shape.

We agree on the mentoring at least. Many of the kids don't have father figures and this gives them a role model that is so important in their development.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/03/11 - 09:09 am
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You can't get a normal

You can't get a normal education if you were awake all night listening to adults fight-----if your stomach is empty----if drugs run your home----if parents stay in jail more than the home----if crime is taking over your neighborhood.....I'm just saying...what is going on in todays world is NOT working for some kids.....try this & I hope it makes a difference....good luck to the school & principal.

iLove
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iLove 07/03/11 - 09:21 am
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@ Incognito: You
Unpublished

@ Incognito: You said:

"...there are only a tiny number of students at the magnet schools and the schools cost a fortune to run."

Really? I believe this is false information.

Reverie
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Reverie 07/03/11 - 09:26 am
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These reform ideas are great,

These reform ideas are great, however, it is our tax money that pays for this. Communities should do this on their own dime and/or with the help others who are willing to support it.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/03/11 - 09:38 am
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Tax $$$ will either pay for

Tax $$$ will either pay for more jails-police-judges-etc. I would rather it go for this........but that's just me.

TK3
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TK3 07/03/11 - 09:39 am
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"Nancy Keener" hit the nail

"Nancy Keener" hit the nail on the head.

TK3
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TK3 07/03/11 - 09:38 am
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"Nancy Keener" hit the nail

"Nancy Keener" hit the nail on the head. Government schools have long become nothing more than socialist baby sitting classes for gang members and little else and until they get tough they will never be able to teach (not just brainwash) those kids that actually WANT to learn!

Reverie
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Reverie 07/03/11 - 09:42 am
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Let's not forget the four

Let's not forget the four teens who were identified as the toughest "most violent" gang leaders and who control the school. Lock them up or expel them! And while you're at it lock up the adult gang leaders who control the teens! Is a houseboat party going to stop gang controlled drug, theft, prostitution, etc. from infiltrating the schools and neighborhoods--apparently so.

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 11:08 am
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The latest data on the

The latest data on the current number of students at Davidson Middle AND High Schools is 681. The number at AR Johnson Middle AND High is 645. That's a tiny number even if they are superior students we should all be proud of.

Lakeside High School, not including the middle school, alone has 1562 students in much smaller Columbia County.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/03/11 - 11:07 am
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My granddaughter went to

My granddaughter went to Davidson...I'm really glad she did...A+ student........what I hear from teachers & students is that it is almost impossible to teach ALL students when you spend so much of the day catching the slow ones up to par or trying to control the rowdy kids.....so ALL kids get LEFT behind...not just a few.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/03/11 - 11:19 am
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Riverman1Tuesday, Nov. 16

Riverman1Tuesday, Nov. 16 4:55 AMReport Ignore user Why not call about half of them magnet schools and the other half tech schools? The students who can't handle the increased academic load should be tracked into technical, trade learning schools and programs? Separating those who can do college prep work from others whose abilities and interests are geared toward the trades is really what this is all about.

This is what riverman said last Nov......& I agree....:O)

countyman
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countyman 07/03/11 - 04:32 pm
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Davidson and AR Johnson

Davidson and AR Johnson aren't the only two magnet schools in the county... The $21 million magnet high school under construction next to Augusta Tech opens in 2012..

The population of CT Walker is almost at 900 students.. The IB program at ARC, Arts Infusion at Warren Rd, and the AP Academy at Laney are magnet programs... The county is expanding the magnet program to other elementary, middle, and high schools.. Lake Forest is considered an IB PYP Candidate School.. The school must turn the application B in on October 2011..

Also Westside, ARC, and Cross Creek graduations rates are within 80% or higher... There's plenty of kids at the non-magnet schools receiving a good education...

I didn't know Lakeside was the only school in Columbia County.. The total population at Harlem is 696 students..

Sweet son
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Sweet son 07/03/11 - 02:41 pm
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The RCBOE needs to come up

The RCBOE needs to come up with a line item budget for the million so taxpayers can see how it will be wasted!!! Or maybe be effectively used!!!

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 05:25 pm
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"There's plenty of non-magnet

"There's plenty of non-magnet schools receiving a good education"

Heh, heh, heh. Look at the county wide scores in ANYTHING. Compare those to surrounding counties. Compare the scores to Columbia County and you will understand why the population has shifted out there.

Reverie
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Reverie 07/03/11 - 06:03 pm
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The use of the words "Magnet

The use of the words "Magnet School" refers to a school that highlights any type of academic program including technical trades. The trend seems to be reshaping each school into a magnet for something. What is the strategic plan for RCSS?

countyman
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countyman 07/03/11 - 06:42 pm
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The latest graduation rate in

The latest graduation rate in CC was 84% and it's 78% in Richmond County.. Davidson was recently named the 75th best school in the entire country.. We definitely need to improve certain schools, but every school in the county isn't failing either..

P.S. Richmond County leads the CSRA in the number of new commercial permits in the year 2011... The commercial development follows the residential construction..The past, present, and future are three diffrent things..
http://www.loopnet.com/Attachments/4/C/E/4CE8E1B2-4FE5-4CD3-AC7F-26C16DE...

The map on Page 2.... Gordon Hwy west of Jimmie Dyess: The red sold large tract(shaped smilar to the letter T) off Gordon Hwy is the new 200 acre Haynes Station residential development.. The land clearing is more than likely underway on the property. The smaller sold tract next door(shaped similar to a pond) is the Willhaven subdivision... Gordon Hwy east of Jimmie Dyess: The sold tract is the subdivision Belfair Lakes..

Along Jimmie Dyess: The top of the sold tract is the subdivision Breckenridge and the bottom portion is the neighborhood Elderberry.. The small part zoned B-2 facing Jimmie Dyess Pkwy is the 25 arce shopping center..

The Dyess Park site plan on page 3.. Lots 2 & 3: Freedom Park Executive Center, Lot 4: Child's World, Lot 13: Zaxby's... New construction-Lots 11 & 12: Shoppes at Dyess Park... Coming soon-The large tract across from Zaxby's and the Shoppes at Dyess Park is supposed to be an hotel...

Reverie
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Reverie 07/03/11 - 06:19 pm
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Is it legal to require a

Is it legal to require a teacher to work after school and weekends with a "contract to pledge their commitment to mentoring" or else find another job? If anything bad happens with a teacher and/or student off hours, off campus, involving a POV...these are minors...I see a lawsuit. Who is liable and for what when that one thing happens? What does the Professional Standards Commission and the State Board of Education have to say about mandated mentoring?

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 06:58 pm
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The high school portion of

The high school portion of Davidson, grades 9-12, only has 362 students. AR Johnson has 380 students. These are the only schools with decent SAT scores or any other kind. This is in the largest county school system in the area. That is pathetic and exactly the kind of thing this mentor philosophy will help. You have to bring up Glenn Hills, Laney and the others.

countyman
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countyman 07/03/11 - 07:12 pm
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The SAT scores at Westside

The SAT scores at Westside were higher than Evans and Harlem in 2009 and higher than Grovetown in 2010.. The SAT scores at Harlem are higher, but the graduation rate is lower compared to both Josey and Glenn Hills.. The SAT scores of Hephzibah were higher than Grovetown in 2009 and lower in 2010...

The IB program at ARC is the only one in the entire CSRA.. Grovetown SAT scores were 5 points higher in 2010.. Harrisburg is being transformed and the scores at ARC will continue to rise..

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 07/03/11 - 07:37 pm
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Where is Riverman?

Where is Riverman?

AutumnLeaves
8507
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AutumnLeaves 07/03/11 - 10:14 pm
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Was there someone else with

Was there someone else with these teachers besides the students? Couldn't tell from the article. No way would I allow my kids to go out on the lake in a boat with just one mentor or teacher, no matter how wonderful the reputation of the mentor or teacher. My child wouldn't be going out to eat one on one with a teacher, or having a teacher come over to our home to visit either, without parents or another supervising adult also present, at the least, either. The article doesn't indicate if there was additional supervision other than the one on one teacher/student; I hope there was. There ARE professional codes of conduct for teachers in Richmond County, aren't there? Fraternizing with students one on one should be a definite no-no. The rules are for everyone's sake, teacher and students, so false accusations can't start flying about so that neither are compromised in fact or in rumor. Please reassure me that no local teachers are alone with students, for instance: driving individual students to and from school or giving them special presents, and so on.... I wouldn't want good intentions to turn into something that could have been prevented with a little common sense.

jbenny2010
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jbenny2010 07/04/11 - 12:32 pm
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To answer some questions: 1)

To answer some questions:

1) The requirement to mentor is a part of the addendum to the teacher's contract. The teacher decided whether or not he/she wants to sign it. Basically, it says that for these additional responsibilities, you will get paid x number of dollars.

2) The parents, students, and teachers sign a mentoring agreement that outlines the types of activities that the mentor/mentee may participate in. Plus staff members are trained to understand what the boundaries are.

3) These are high school students, not elementary students. If a high school student doesn't feel some type of rapport with the teacher, they won't participate anyway.

4) Before any activities go on, the teacher (and many times another staff member) visits the home (with the parents permission, of course) to become acquainted with the parents. Parents must give their permission for any afterschool/weekend activities.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 07/04/11 - 02:14 pm
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Kudos to Principal Wayne

Kudos to Principal Wayne Frazier and his staff for working towards really making a difference in these student's lives!

Now, if we could find a way to mentor the parents in the first stages of early childhood education, there would be far less need for intervening for the family during middle and high school years. We have become a reactive society rather than proactive which takes more time, more money, and meets with far less success.

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