Giving Compass’ Take:
• Leigh Colburn, former principal of Marietta High School, created a wraparound educational model for students providing them with extra services based on their needs.
• Colburn leveraged what existing community organizations could already offer to students in the form of food pantries, laundry and clothing services, and mental health support. How can donors further support these initiatives?
• Read about how more schools are embracing wraparound services.
It was 2007, and Marietta High School, part of Marietta City Schools outside Atlanta, had just come off Georgia’s “needs improvement” list for low-performing schools. Student test scores and graduation rates in the school had also spiked, marking what all considered the start of a turnaround in the suburban district.
Well, almost all.
Leigh Colburn, then-principal of Marietta High School, the only high school in the district, was encouraged by the gains like anyone else. But she still wasn’t satisfied. She had noticed—and begun to agonize over—the 20 to 25 percent of kids in Marietta who still weren’t graduating. Despite academic reinforcements, those students seemed stuck, and she was beginning to understand why.
Many of these kids were homeless or lacked stable housing. Others were witnessing domestic violence, or experiencing it first-hand. Still others went hungry outside of school hours. These students were dealing with hardships that no amount of tutoring or test prep could compensate for.
Instead of taking up the issue with staff at the high school, or even with other leaders in the district, Colburn decided to take an approach that, at the time, seemed novel: She went straight to the students and asked them, “What do you need? What is getting in the way of your learning?”
Those two simple questions were later solidified as the first in a seven-step process Colburn now calls the “Centergy cycle,” which makes student voice the central component in helping schools identify ways to address challenges facing students outside of the classroom.
Colburn resigned as principal in 2015 to become director of the Graduate Marietta Student Success Center, the district’s new one-stop shop designed to provide resources and support in areas that students in the district identified as being most critical to their success.
Read the full article about wraparound education model by Emily Tate at EdSurge
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