Reinvesting In and Reengaging Georgia’s Youth

Print This Post

Rural. Urban. Suburban. School failure has infiltrated each of these Georgia landscapes. Truancy Intervention Project (TIP) Georgia, a dropout prevention program, provides resources and intervention services to children who are chronically absent from school and have become involved with the local juvenile court or are referred for early intervention at the school level.

TIP Georgia recently convened schools, courts, nonprofits—anyone with a vested interest in the education and success of Georgia’s children at its first conference, Reinvesting In and Reengaging Georgia’s Youth. This Georgia truancy and delinquency conference sent participants back to their communities with practical ideas, information, and strategies to mobilize their intervention efforts. Besides exploring why truancy exists, anticipated changes to georgia’s juvenile codes, the connection between delinquency and juvenile offenses, participants also discussed creating alliances between schools and local businesses.

Some strong themes emerged, but the increasing need for dialog and collaboration stood out. Here are some highlights from the conference along with comments and strategies from some of the presenters.

It’s Time to Dismantle Our Silos

Judge Glenda Hatchett, star of the “Judge Hatchett Show” and author of Dare To Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose! says truancy is the first step to dropping out, and that educating our children must be a priority in Georgia. She acknowleges how difficult this work is and that clinging to a silo mentality only increases the frustration. “It’s only by accepting the invitation to sit at the collaborative table—and putting the best we have to offer on that table—that we can begin to write a new story for Georgia’s children,” said Hatchett. “We need to be intentional about what we do, the strategies we engage in, and how we support each other.”

Investing Beyond Our Lifetime

In her opening keynote, Glenda Hatchett tells why she abandoned a comfortable career and moved to the juvenile court system. She presses every person who has a vested interest in the education and success of Georgia’s children to answer why a 15-year-old child ended up in her courtroom for murder. Intervening after this dropout killed someone in a drug deal gone wrong was too late.”Why didn’t we do something when he left school?” she asked. “Where did we lose him? Somebody knew he wasn’t going to school!” Hatchett says children need help at the front door. We all know this is important work. The frustration sets in because results don’t come as quickly as we’d like to see them. Hatchett reminds participants that we are not investing just in this generation, but in generations yet born. We need to have the ability to see this work beyond us.

Listen to Glenda Hatchett’s opening keynote

Reaching a Common Goal through Meaningful Partnerships

State Board of Education Chair Wanda Barrs says we in Georgia all strive for the same goal—we want our children to graduate from high school college and career ready with a meaningful curriculum. She said we can only attain those goals through strong partnerships and offers two strategies that will help all students graduate.

Creating Unlimited Options for ALL Our Children

In her closing keynote, Wanda Barrs said for too long we’ve minimized expectations for some students while we send the others ready into the world. She offered two strategies that will help all children in Georgia succeed. One diploma will provide them with unlimited options, and a longitudinal data system will help teachers be strategic in their instruction as students move throughout the state and transfer from school to school.

Listen to Wanda Barrs talk about two strategies to help students graduate.

Contact Wanda Barrs if you have questions about providing our children with unlimited options.

Why Won’t They Go to School?

Dr. Juliett Stovall, a school social worker, points to the social and economic issues in children’s lives, a general feeling of not fitting in, and the inability to adequately interact as factors that keep them out of school. On the flip side, it is the instinctive desire to make friends and gain a sense of belonging that drive young people to turn to groups outside of school—gangs. Stovall says if there is to be success in school it is crucial to maintain regular school attendance. We can achieve that by collaborating—giving up isolation, raising parent awareness, and establishing and maintaining meaningful dialog.

HOW Are You Thinking About the Problem?

Dr. Miles Anthony Irving, an associate professor of educational psychology at Georgia State University, encourages us to maintain hope and aspiration for our youth. He said it’s important for us to be aware of how we’re thinking about the problem and our ability to come up with creative solutions. Irving challenges us to be critical and self-reflective as we improve our ability to make authentic connections with who they are and where they are. We must be willing to look at ourselves and think about the things that get in our way of connecting with those who are different.

Do you really know your mind?

Intervene Early

Jennifer Bennecke, executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, says it is through early, positive intervention and by empowering communities to fully engage that our children will stay in school, graduate, and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Take a look at the conference photo gallery.

If you’d like to explore which TIP model applies to your community, send an e-mail to Adrian Wright, or call him at 404-224-4741.