Local high school hires “coach” to boost graduation rates

Eagle Point, Ore. — Several organizations are working together, to help increase the graduation rate at one Oregon school. They’re hoping a little one on one time will help students reach their full potential.

“Help them build that resiliency, and self-regulation, and the discipline to be able to be successful in school and in life,” Eagle Point High School Assistant Principal Heather Marinucci says.

In 2012 United Way of Jackson County launched an initiative aiming for a 100%graduation rate for the class of 2020. Those students are now freshmen throughout the county, and this year could be the most important in order to reach that goal.

“If they are not on track by the end of their freshmen year they are 40 percent less likely to graduate on time,” Marinucci says, “or at all.”

That statistic is encouraging districts to intervene early. At Eagle Point High School 74 freshmen were failing one or more classes at the end of their first semester. Now, they’re hoping the addition of a graduation coach will change the tide.

“I’m pretty much a support system for the class of 2020,” Graduation Adviser, Robert Joe says.

Joe has been working with the school’s 268 freshmen for the last 7 weeks. His role is to support each and every one of them.

“Grade checks, missing assignments, just pretty much keeping on top of them,” Joe says.

And it’s not only in the classroom.

“Part of my responsibilities is to make home visits to just check in on those students and I’ve done that already,” Joe says.

“He just pushes me to do better every day,” EPHS freshmen, Gabrielle Mercado says.

For freshmen Gabrielle Mercado it’s an addition that’s making all the difference.

“He’s that extra backbone and that support I never had,” Mercado adds.

“I think it was just that missing piece we needed,” Joe says.

Joe says he’s already seeing results, and has high hopes all 268 of his students will walk across the stage in 2020.

The graduation coach is being funded by United Way, Allcare Health, and the Southern Oregon ESD. If it’s successful the hope is to have 4 coaches dedicated to each high school class every year.

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