Dalton State Program Keeps High School Students on Track
October 9, 2014
Clarissa Martinez is glad she’s getting a little extra help reaching her goals. The senior at Southeast High School wants to be a nuclear engineer and knows she has to stay on top of important deadlines, such as applying for college.
“It’s like having another mom to keep me on track,” Martinez said of Dalton State’s Next Step Program, which helps high school seniors stay focused on life after graduation.
The program is funded through a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Workforce Investment Act. Last year’s funding was $125,220. Now in its second year, with a budget of $112,185, it continues to help seniors in Whitfield and Murray county schools transition to life after high school, whether that’s college, the workforce, or the military.
The College partners with Southeast and Coahulla Creek in Whitfield County Schools and Murray County High School in the Murray County School System to help students improve math, reading, and English skills, as well as provide occupational skills training, leadership development, and job readiness.
“We have more than 80 percent of last year’s students, who have been placed in the workforce, who have joined the military, or who are pursuing a post-secondary education,” Paula Callicutt, director of Next Step. “We served 41 students in Dalton Public Schools and the Murray County School System last year. This year, we are serving 35 students with a few slots still available for qualified applicants in the Whitfield and Murray county schools. Our goal is to aid these students in completing high school and assist their placement within the area workforce, their enrollment in military pursuits and pursuance of a post-secondary education.”
Those working in the Next Step Program help students and mentor them with career development, such as career aptitudes, college searches, applications for jobs or college, scholarships, and financial aid. They provide leadership training, the opportunity for community service projects, college visits, ACT/SAT testing preparation, and the opportunity to take Dalton State’s COMPASS, which is mandatory for admission.
Next Step staff then follow up with students for a year after graduating high school, continuing to assist the student as needed.
“This is one way we can help make sure we have productive members of our community,” Callicutt said.
Next Step counts as a high school elective for the students enrolled.
Devin Walden, a senior at Southeast, has been glad for the class.
“I’ve been working on improving my reading, writing and math skills,” said Walden, who wants a career in real estate. “I’ve had help applying to college and deciding what I want to major in. It’s been quite helpful.”