If you visited our homepage, you understand a taste of what we do! If you are looking for the in depth, detailed explanation, you are in the right place! Gradway is a local organization combating the issue of high school dropout rates in Kosciusko and Whitley County. It began when, in 2009, local community members realized that the county dropout rate was 26% and decided that this should and could be improved. These leaders began an initiative to work with students to encourage high school graduation. The mission; promoting graduation one relationship at a time.
Thus, the program began in the three area high schools; Warsaw Community, Wawasee, and Tippecanoe Valley. Whitko High School joined the program years later as well. The four school corporations work together, with each Superintendent serving on the Board of Directors, with Gradway to promote graduation among the at risk young in their schools. This is accomplished through the work of Graduation Coaches in each high school.
Grad Coaches work with students who are at risk for dropping out of school. Their goal is to build a positive, healthy, lasting relationship with each student to encourage him or her toward graduation. Their job is to be a constant, caring adult who is pushing for the student's success. They do so by helping with homework, creating avenues for students to make up missed work, teaching students to advocate for themselves, or simply being a listening ear should the students need someone to hear them out.
Because our students each join the Gradway program for a variety of different reason, there is not one simple cut-and-dry way to work with each student. The wonderful thing about Gradway is that our coaches are not expected to follow a particular curriculum. This allows for the coaches to be flexible enough to meet each student's needs, but still focus on the end goal of getting a diploma in the hands of each student at graduation.
When the Board of Directors realized what a success this program was, through data collected each year, they began thinking of ways to expand the program and help more students. Thus, they chose to expand into the local middle schools and elementary schools. Now, Gradway has mentors in the elementary schools, Success Coaches in the middle schools, and Grad Coaches in the high schools. Each coach and mentor has the same mission; promoting graduation one relationship at a time. They simply work with different age levels. By reaching students across all age levels, Gradway has the ability to begin building relationships and catching students at a younger age to encourage and guide them toward graduating high school. We believe that by teaching students the necessary skills to succeed they are able to create a future story for themselves. This is what will generate success for their future and create a positive road ahead.
When this program begin, our county average graduation rate was only 74%, which meant that more than one out of every four students was entering the adult world without a diploma in hand. We are happy to say that graduation rates have risen 18%, to a 92% average, since the start of Gradway! We know there is still more work to be done, and are excited to be a part of guiding even more students to graduation.