Volunteers help get dropouts back to class

September 13, 2009 8:45:37 AM PDT
HISD's new superintendent is already hitting the streets, trying to tackle one of the greatest issues the district faces -- the dropout rate. Dr. Terry Grier participated in what has become an annual effort to keep kids in school, going door-to door, asking them to return."You can't stop school. You've got to continue," said Dr. Grier.

It was early on a Saturday and Dr. Grier was visiting the homes of dropouts, encouraging them to return to school; students like Tamara Baptist.

"I don't get along with a whole lot of people," she sazid. "I don't know. I just didn't want to graduate."

"It was a surprise. A good surprise," said Tamara's mother, Esther Juedy.

On this day, the visit worked.

"I don't know. Yeah, I am," said Tamara.

"Her mom's gonna bring her back and get her registered in school," said Dr. Grier. "We've got a good dropout prevention counselor and a great principal, staff and team. They are going to try to help her find a job. They are going to try to adjust her schedule so that perhaps she can work part of the day and hopefully graduate from high school."

The pitch has already worked on 10th grader Adolfo Serrano, who got a call to come back last week.

"I feel like if they didn't put as much effort into getting me enrolled and getting back into my classes, I might not have come back," said Serrano.

High schools were open across the district this weekend to accept returning students.

"If we can get one student to come back, it's worth a Saturday morning for all of us," said Dr. Grier.

Dr. Grier says a huge part of HISD's effort must also focus on early intervention for ESL students and making sure middle schoolers get a good foundation for high school.

The annual 'Reach Out to Dropouts' walk visited more than 1,000 homes. At least 64 students committed to going back to school.

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