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Cochise County Superintendent starts high school dropout recovery program

Cochise County Superintendent starts high school dropout recovery program
Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 11, 2022

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Superintendent of Schools in Cochise County recently started an online program for high school dropouts. It’s a flexible environment for these students to feel supported in their pursuit of an education.

According to Education Forward Arizona, 16% of 16 to 24-year-olds in Cochise County are not in school or working. The New Crossroads Academy wants to change that.

“I wanted, we wanted to find those students and help them live to their potential because if they do that it betters our community, it betters our state,” said Jacqueline Clay, Cochise County Superintendent of Schools.

Any Arizona resident between the age of 16 and 22 can enroll. The other requirement is that they’ve been withdrawn from school for at least 30 days.

“We are a dropout accommodation school," Clay said. "We’re only focusing on one demographic.”

“They find themselves in a situation where they feel they’re stuck, and we want to help them through that,” said Benjamin Reyna, Principal of New Crossroads Academy.

The goal is to motivate students who often fall through the cracks of the education system.

“Our students who have been in prison, detention center, jail, students who have lost hope because they’ve fallen behind. Students who have gotten pregnant or had to get a job,” Clay said.

Everything is online, so students can choose their own schedules that work with their lifestyle. The individual classes don't have teachers, but there are 16 available in case a student needs help.

“We want to make sure the student has the same kind of support they have at a brick and mortar school even though they’re online,” Reyna said.

The academy started enrollment in June of 2021. There are currently 470 students enrolled and each is assigned one of 22 mentors. The mentors check in every couple weeks to help students follow through in receiving their diploma.

“They keep an eye on their progress and say ‘Hey we’ve noticed you haven’t logged in this week. Is there anything going on? Is there anything we can do to help you?” Reyna said.

Superintendent Clay is working with Cochise College to offer vocational training at the Academy. She also plans to develop a physical space for students to come in and get help.