Good News: Communities in Schools of Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A program the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System nearly did away with a few years ago is now being recognized as a model for the district.

Communities in Schools is a dropout prevention program in which members of the public support and mentor students who need a little help at school.
We went to find how the school system celebrated the results realized when the program was re-launched at Haven Elementary this school year.

The celebration at the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education Tuesday was for the rededication to the Communities in School Program, and the results produced at Haven Elementary this year by the community members who went into the school and worked as tutors and mentors for the K through 8th-grade students.

"The students the worked with,'' Haven principal Dionee Young said of the mentorship program, "we saw significant gains with their academic progress and their attendance and their overall test scores, just their attitudes about coming to school. We just saw a huge difference with that.''

Communities in Schools is a national program that has been in Savannah for 25 years with limited success. When it was almost removed, school board member Cliff McCurry pushed for a recommitment to it.

"To see those young kids when you walk in that door so happy to see somebody who cares about coming to read to them and mentor, that just makes you feel great,'' said McCurry. "A kid who drops out of high school is going to cost society $1 million in his lifetime either through the penal system or welfare, as opposed to the child who graduates high school is going to earn over $1 million. So, that's a $2 million swing per student, and if you can save one student, that always meant a lot to me.''

Communities in Schools did a lot better than that, reaching 416 students at Haven. Of the second through fifth graders who received targeted service, 97 percent met academic performance goals, 91 percent met behavioral goals and 100 percent were promoted to the next grade.

As a program, Communities in Schools of Savannah performed even more impressively.

"We hit the ground running,'' said Catalina Garcia-Quick, Executive Director of Communities in Schools of Savannah. "We were able to not only get accredited, we were able to be the first in the country to do so under the new standards.''

Which only further justifies the new commitment to the program locally.

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