Drop In Nation – A Revolution In Education

12 Jul

Last year, we did a story about the South Buffalo Education Center and how it was changing the lives of people in our city.

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Under the stewardship of its Executive Director, Stacey Watson, the center graduated 683 students from what proved to be the most successful GED program in New York State. The curriculum used at SBEC was written by Ms. Watson and her collaborator Susan Mendel-Hausman and is now being implemented at a new center, Drop-In Nation.

A few months back, I was invited to join the Board of Directors of Drop-In Nation and it has been a life-changing experience. The mission of Drop-In Nation is to assist out of school youth as well as unemployed and underemployed adults to obtain a high school equivalency diploma. We accomplish this by providing holistic education, which includes life skills, and career-training opportunities in a collaborative community based setting.

The City of Buffalo has faced a drop-out crisis for many years, and although there has been much attention paid to the plight of in-school youth, there is a population that is completely unrepresented in local, state and national legislation and educational funding: the 16-21 year-old drop-out.

In New York, over 38,000 youth leave the public school system each year. In Buffalo, nearly 50% of our students drop out annually. Leaving our children to fend for themselves results in high crime rates, low employability and social ramifications that will follow our city for decades. Drop-In Nation provides a solution for the many young people who have left school by choice, by release or by circumstances outside of their control.

Dropouts often leave school with significant problems which only grow the longer they are away from school.   Often times, the student just needs someone to provide the emotional support to start the program. “The students just need someone to help them find the way,” says Watson, “Once they get on track, they run with it.  They’re hungry for success and we’ve designed a curriculum which serves the holistic emotional needs of the student, not just the basics.”

The Drop-In Nation Curriculum, focuses on the personal – as well as academic – achievements of out-of-school youth, fostering a sense of responsibility to self and community by creating an “intellectual family” for students who have felt disenfranchised from traditional education. The curriculum exceeds the New York State average graduation rate by 87% and provides youth with opportunities that encourage academic, professional, and personal success.

Last month, Watson was interviewed on WECK1230 about the program and her background. She’s an inspirational lady. If you want to put a hop in your step this morning, I suggest you give it a listen.

The school is currently housed at 700 Main Street in Buffalo and there are plans for satellite locations around the entire city. There are also plans to create a national level of the program, exporting this unique solution to the urban education crisis to cities around the country.

The program is free of charge to City of Buffalo residents, including underemployed or jobless adults, with a primary focus on assisting out-of-school youth. If you know someone in need of the services, or you want to learn more about the organization, please let me know. Follow DIN on Facebook and let us know if you’d like to volunteer your time or donate a few dollars.

4 Responses to “Drop In Nation – A Revolution In Education”

  1. Chris Sasiadek July 12, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    A very inspirational post.  As someone who has worked in urban education, I can understand many reasons why so many students choose to drop out.  It’s important to provide alternative routes to education and a better quality of life, especially for students whose first shot at education wasn’t the best.

    Great work to all involved!

  2. Tracy Diina July 12, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Amazing work

  3. Eisenbart July 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Half of the students drop out? What the hell do they do then? I couldn’t even imagine.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Merge Presents: Empowering Neighbors – Drop-In Nation’s Stacey Watson | The Good Neighborhood - July 27, 2011

    […] comes courtesy of WNYMedia.net’s Christopher Smith, who wrote an article last week about his work as a board member for Drop-In […]

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