Dropouts given a second chance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

High school dropouts are being given a second chance in Butler County.

A new grant-funded program, the Second Chance Alternative Education Program of Butler County, will give dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21 the opportunity to acquire a GED or a diploma.

&#8220We are very excited to be able to offer this program to those who need it in Butler County,” Melinda Coghlan, lead teacher and case manager for Second Chance, said.

All classes will be held at the Butler County Education and Community Center (the former high school) on School Highlands Road in Greenville.

It is open to residents throughout the county, and there is no charge to participate.

Second Chance will differ from the high school classes many dropouts may recall.

&#8220This is going to be a very non-traditional learning environment. I have found from talking with our young people the traditional classroom setting is what turned a lot of them off to begin with,” Coghlan said.

&#8220Many dropped out simply because they didn't like school. This will be very different from what some are accustomed to, and we believe they will enjoy it.”

Tutoring will be offered on a one-in-one basis and in small groups to address basic skill needs. Additional, special or remedial assistance will be provided as needed on an individual basis, Coghlan said.

The Second Chance Program will work in conjunction with local businesses, agencies, programs, community colleges and technical schools to provide a support system for the participants and help them get more than their diploma or certificate.

&#8220We also want to offer these young people assistance into getting ready for the next step: postsecondary education and employment,” Coghlan said.

Supportive services will be offered in the areas of guidance and counseling, medical aid, housing, work-related tools and attire, anger management and conflict resolution, money management, life skills, food stamps, leadership skills and educational financial aide application assistance.

Childcare services will also be available, and many incentives will be offered to students along the way, the lead teacher said.

&#8220We are going to reward those with perfect attendance, for example, and celebrate when they reach certain milestones in the program. We also plan to incorporate field trips into the program.”

Each participant will also be paired with an adult mentor who will work with the Second Chance staff to challenge the youth to do well, help them make a connection between school and work, and provide first-hand exposure to the world of work. Participants will receive both one-on-one mentoring and small group mentoring.

&#8220We feel there is truly an overwhelming need for this program in our county. It is truly a second chance for these young people they wouldn't otherwise get,” Coghlan said.

Enrollment for Second Chance has already begun, and the program is initially seeking out approximately 35 participants.

&#8220We want to spread the word and get people from throughout the county who need this program involved. There are so many valuable services they are eligible for once they are accepted,” Coghlan said.

For more information, contact Melinda Coghlan at the BCECC at 382-5199.