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Community discussion to focus on keeping kids in school, improve math skills

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Grady County educators and others interested in reducing the high school dropout rate here are asking for ideas and input from the community at large. Would mentoring help keep students in school until they graduate? Or, do they need tutoring? A local group called C.A.F.E., or Circle of Adults Focusing on Education, wants to get families and community members engaged with education to improve student achievement.
“We’re begging for ideas and help and support to try to help the schools and help these kids graduate,” says Cristie Gilliard, director of special education for Grady County Schools and chairwoman of the C.A.F.E. stakeholder committee.
The C.A.F.E. committee is inviting interested people to a “Community Conversation” Thursday, Feb. 10, in the cafeteria of Cairo High School beginning at 6 p.m. In addition to entertainment by the CHS Jazz Band, those on hand will be served a light dinner.
The conversation will take place at tables set up in the cafeteria with facilitators at each location to coordinate the conversation around a specific issue. “We want to know what are the barriers to graduation, and what can we do to help,” says Gilliard. Before the meeting ends, results of the conversations will be discussed.
The importance of math to a student’s successful graduation and career readiness will be a focus of the evening’s conversation. Winners of a math poster contest sponsored by the school system will also be announced that evening. Gilliard says she will announce the winners on the elementary, middle and high school levels and then the countywide winner. The posters were to include a catchy slogan about math that the county can use to encourage success in the subject.
Gilliard says C.A.F.E. is a state initiative being implemented in 50 Georgia counties struggling with dropout rates and/or graduation rates. The Stakeholder Committee is made up of 14 educators, business leaders, families and others whose focus is to ‘impact graduation and career readiness efforts for students with and without disabilities.”
The committee will track 50 select students over four years to see if special efforts can keep them in school until they graduate in 2019. Gilliard says Thursday’s Community Conversation is the first step towards helping those 50 and all other Grady County students earn a high school diploma.

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