Walkin’ the Walk: Goose Creek reaches out to dropouts

Goose Creek Board member Howard Sampson and Patty Bing prepare to make contact with a former student during Goose Creek CISD1s second annual Reach Out to Dropouts Walk on Sept. 12.

BAYTOWN — Goose Creek CISD’s Reach Out to Dropouts Walk seeks to convince students who have left school to return and graduate.

This is achieved through door-to-door conversations between targeted teenagers and district and community volunteers who come with a belief that everyone deserves a second chance — the dropout and the school system.

Here’s how it works: a group of volunteers headed up by San Jacinto Elementary Principal Becky Robins and San Jacinto Family Involvement Coordinator Sara Serrano knocked on a door of a home in old Baytown this past weekend.

A man answered. He was the grandfather of a ninth-grade dropout. He said that no one was home. But after a few follow-up questions, her two sisters — who attend Goose Creek schools — came out the door.

Robins asked them if their sister was home, and they answered yes. She was asleep.

“Go wake her up,” Robins said.

After about five minutes, a sleepy-looking young lady appeared at the door. After a few questions, the young lady said she was interested in returning to school.

But the catch was, she needed a ride. Robins spoke up: “How about if I pick you up on Monday morning?”

The young lady agreed, and the group went on their way.

Robins said she thought about the teen all weekend. “Why would she trust me? Would she be there? I was nervous, and I’m sure she was nervous,” Robins said.

On Monday morning, Robins arrived and the teen — with notebook in hand — was ready to go. She re-enrolled in school that day.

So far, 16 dropouts have re-enrolled because of Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District’s second annual Reach Out to Dropouts Walk on Saturday, Sept. 12.

“I am amazed by the follow up from the volunteers at our walk. We have many calling me to ask about specific students. What could they do to help? If they need to call, etc.,” said Walk coordinator Janci Alexander-Alfaro, Goose Creek’s Director of Guidance and Counseling. “It truly makes the efforts worthwhile to have the kids supported beyond the actual walk itself. It makes me proud of my community.”

As it is billed, Reach Out to Dropouts Walk is a program that recovers students who have not returned to school.

Nearly 300 volunteers turned out for the Reach Out to Dropouts Walk this year. Teachers, administrators, and community volunteers went to the homes of 245 former students and made them aware of after-school programs that could help them finish their education.

Most re-enrolled students will require tutoring. Some will need flexible schedules for work and school. More than a few will need day care for their children. And others will require all of the above.

Whatever the need, Goose Creek will provide as much help as possible. “Knocking on door is to evoke a sense of, we care, we are concerned,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Toby York. “Your education is important to us and we want it to be important to you too. And we also have the opportunity to get the whole family involved and have a conversation with them.”

A 2007 report from Columbia University’s Teachers College found each high school graduate provides a $127,000 net benefit in terms of reduced government spending and increased revenue. And according to the U.S. Education Department, workers with high school diplomas begin their work lives with about $10,000 more in earning power.