Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fwd: Riverside County Education Update, June 2012

: Riverside County Education Update, June 2012
Riverside County Education Update, January 2012
Education Update from Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Kenneth Young

June, 2012

Making Up for Lost Time
Come Back Kids celebrates 240 graduates

Photo of Kentrell Wilson in his cap and gown.When Kentrell Wilson was just 13, he started hanging out on the streets in South Central Los Angeles - breaking his mother's curfew, smoking, drinking, "the whole nine yards." That year he was introduced to juvenile hall and a boys' group home. It didn't faze him. The next year, at just 14, he dropped out of school. For the next four years, he spent no time around teachers, but a judge knew him on a first-name basis.

Kentrell Wilson's story features young friends sent to prison for life, friends who died on the streets. But what makes his story really remarkable is that as he told it Tuesday evening (May 29) in Riverside, he was standing on stage at a graduation exercise, wearing cap and gown and the gold stole of an RCOE honor student.

Meet three of our Come Back Kids graduates in these short videos:
Kentrell Wilson, Estrella Rivas, Daniel Carrillo

Thanks to Come Back Kids, the four-year-old dropout recovery program of the Riverside County Office of Education also known as CBK, Kentrell Wilson is a proud member of the graduating Class of 2012. After "four years of throwing (his) future away," he came to live with an aunt in Riverside County. He wound up at the CBK program in Temecula. "It was very stressful at times," he recalled, "because when you miss four years of school, most of those skills you learned from elementary and junior high school are lost."

But with individualized guidance through CBK, he recovered those skills. He discovered the joy of reading. He plowed through 500-problem math assignments. Kentrell Wilson made up for lost time. And we're proud of him.

Photo of Estrella Rivas.One obligation of the Riverside County Office of Education is to provide various forms of "alternative education" programs to students. The County Office furnishes the teachers and classes for the young people who don't fit in the educational mainstream - some special education students, or those who are pregnant minors or teen parents, or who've been expelled, or are under court supervision or in juvenile hall. At this graduation season, the Riverside County Class of 2012 may not get much notice. But it gives us a real sense of fulfillment that this group includes more than 400 young people, and that with our help they've each been able to reach this special milestone.

After its first year, the CBK Class of 2009 numbered just 26 students. The next year that jumped to 126 graduates. Last year, it rose to 176. This year it hit 240. That growth is a reflection of one of California's most successful dropout recovery programs. Come Back Kids works with the caring attention of teachers who become face-to-face mentors to their students, and with an Individual Education Plan tailored to each student's needs.

Photo of Daniel Carrillo.Our 2012 CBK students have many faces: Dennis Cruz from the Rubidoux Youth Center, who partied himself out of school but found maturity after his friends graduated without him. He wants to have his own business. Estrella Rivas of Moreno Valley worked late-night shifts to help her family and wound up with insurmountable attendance problems in high school. Now she's enrolling in community college. She too wants to run her own business. Daniel Carrillo, who was mistakenly labeled as a Spanish-speaking English learner when his actual English language skills were layered with sign for communicating with his deaf mother. Daniel wants to become an international interpreter, helping the deaf.

The Come Back Kids Class of 2012 is made up of 240 individual success stories-in-the-making. We congratulate them all.


Kenneth M. Young
Riverside County Superintendent of Schools

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