November 23, 2013

School credit recovery class keeping Oakland, Waterville, Winslow students on track

The after-school, 15 week class aims to help students graduate by offering a chance to make up a failed English credit.

By Jesse Scardina
Staff Writer

For Waterville Senior High School senior Paul Mann, failing a sophomore English class may well have been a hidden blessing.

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EXTRA CREDIT: Author Ron Currie Jr. speaks about his writing experience to students, staff members and the public during a school credit recovery class recently at Waterville Senior High School.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Paul Mann

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Mann, 18 and a three-sport athlete, remembers disliking the teacher and skipping that class.

On Wednesday, however, he and nine other high school students sat attentively through a two-hour book reading with three area writers in a special class that will allow them to recover their school credit and graduate from high school on schedule.

The after-school class of three-hour sessions for 15 weeks is designed to help current high school students graduate with their classes by offering a chance to make up a failed English credit.

The importance of completing high school on time is borne out by income averages later in life.

High school dropouts earn about $10,000 less per year than people with a high school diploma, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, and $36,000 less per year than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

A recent study by America Works, a nationwide employment agency, indicated that only 40 percent of jobs nationwide are open to high school dropouts, and fewer than one-third of those jobs pay more than $25,000.

The credit recovery class, which also serves people returning to obtain their high school diplomas, was developed through a partnership among the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education and the towns of Oakland, Waterville and Winslow.

“I’m out in the public constantly trying to tell people what adult education offers,” said Susan Tuthill, director of the Mid-Maine Adult Education program. “People don’t have any idea that we do this. They think we do quilting and enrichment classes only.”

A credit recovery course has been offered through the adult education program for at least 25 years, according to Tuthill, who, before she was program director, was the high school guidance director in Waterville for 20 years.

High school students who qualify for the credit recovery program are recommended by guidance departments and apply for the class, which is taught by adult education instructor Paula Raymond.

“My focus in class is to bring students an awareness of where literacy begins,” Raymond said. “If they get a better understanding of the full weight of literacy, they gain an appreciation.”

For many students, the class certainly wasn’t something they had anticipated enjoying.

“When I first started this class, I thought, three hours? But when you start working, it seems like five minutes goes by and the class is already over,” Mann said.

The structure of the class is what varies the most from high school. While most English classes are about 80 minutes long, the weekly credit recovery class lasts three hours. The added class time, combined with a smaller student-to-instructor ratio, provides more time for one-on-on instruction.

“I’ve learned a lot more in this English class,” said Keegan Stetson, 16 and a Waterville junior. “We get help individually when we need it, compared to other English classes I’ve had where everyone gets instructions at once.”

The goal of the class is to instill in students the importance of language and literacy, Raymond said. She starts the course by looking back at students’ early memories by examining nursery rhymes.

“We talk about how we develop language and how we read it and write it,” Raymond said. “It’s a developmental process. We start with nursery rhymes and other early interactions with language, like street signs and labels at the grocery store.”

From there, the class starts to examine other types of literature, from picture books to novels.

“I want to show the students the different view points of literacy and how it’s in our life all the time,” Raymond said. “I want to show how you work up from picture books, to a couple words on a page to paragraphs.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Keagan Stetson

Staff photo by David Leaming


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