Beaufort County Schools is celebrating its lowest number of dropouts in more than 10 years. School leaders believe support for students through great teachers, classes, and programs are all key to keeping kids in class, but Beaufort County has created another very effective tool to reduce the number of drop outs.
High school senior Wayne Brewer almost became a statistic.
"If it weren't for it, I don't know what would have happened. I probably wouldn't have finished high school," said Brewer.
The "it" he's talking about is the Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, an alternative school with a Pathways program to help students facing challenges in their home schools. Senior Darrean Keyes is also a student there.
"I have learned a whole lot more than being in high school because here, there's not a whole lot of people and they can get with you individually then in high school. They can't teach you individually as much as they can here," said Keyes.
Beaufort County Superintendent Don Phipps agrees with these seniors on the importance of the Ed Tech Center.
The school is one strong reason the county's dropout rate has dropped dramatically from 140 in 2009 to 79 in 2012.
Beaufort County Dropouts 2009-2012:
"I don't have any doubt that the number of students we have graduate each year would not be graduating if we did not have that program.," said Superintendent Phipps.
Keeping students in class at the Ed Tech Center and all the schools in Beaufort County is a difficult goal to achieve, but Phipps says it has a straightforward solution at its core.
"If we know each student as a unique individual, then we are better able to meet their needs and provide support early," said Phipps.
Be it for the 52 students at the Ed Tech Center or the more than 7,000 students in all of Beaufort County's other schools, the whole purpose is to send students into life with the best education possible.
"I do want to graduate though, for my own benefit. That way I can move on in life and do a lot of things with a high school diploma than just a GED, " said Keyes.
The Pathways program at the Ed Tech Center is funded by the state. The graduation rate is 90 percent. We learned a lot about the Ed Tech Center just last week. Science instructor Cheryl Buck from there was honored as WITN's teacher of the week.