8/21/13 Getting students ready for ‘what’s after high school’

Untitled Document
Alamance-Burlington School System’s executive director of What’s After High School program Robyn Hadley (left) and Greg Darnieder, senior adviser for college access for the U.S. Department of Education, speak with students at the Career Expo held last spring at the district’s high school, the Career and Technical Educational Center.

Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise

Alamance-Burlington School System’s executive director of What’s After High School program Robyn Hadley (left) and Greg Darnieder, senior adviser for college access for the U.S. Department of Education, speak with students at the Career Expo held last spring at the district’s high school, the Career and Technical Educational Center.

Getting students ready for ‘what’s after high school’
By KAREN CARTER Enterprise Editor 8/21/13  
Reprinted with permission.

Robyn Hadley looked at a quote in the office at Eastern Alamance High School and wrote it down: “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. This is the first lesson to be learned. – Thomas Huxley”

The year was 2005 when Hadley discovered that quote at Eastern. She had just begun working with the idea of developing “What’s After High School?” and today she is the executive director of that program for the Alamance-Burlington
School System. Most educators, students, business and community leaders also know the successful program in the school system as the three E’s: Enrollment, Employment, and Enlistment—three options after high school.

“In addition, thanks to Hadley’s efforts, Alamance-Burlington is one of 20 school districts in the nation selected to participate in a pilot program sponsored by United States Department of Education,” says Jenny Faulkner, public information officer of the Alamance-Burlington School System. “The national pilot program provides Alamance-Burlington with information about local students’ completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).”With the What’s After High School? Program, the Alamance-Burlington Schools received a 2013 Magna Award from the National School Boards Association for exemplary and innovative leadership in advancing student learning through best practices. In its recognition of the public school district, the National School Boards Association listed the school system’s success with FAFSA as a model of excellence.

Over the past six years, Hadley has worked to develop partnerships on the national level with the Carolina College Advising Corps and Stanford University to allow Alamance-Burlington Schools to gain access to National Student Clearinghouse data about college enrollment by local high school students, says Faulkner.

Working towards these requirements of the FAFSA Completion Pilot Program, school systems, politicians, and parents have access to prepare pathways for children to climb into the ranks of high school and college graduates, says Hadley.

Greg Darnieder, a senior advisor for college access for the U.S. Department of Education, spoke with the Enterprise about the work of school leaders like Hadley, who was honored in 2012 as a White House National Champion of Change for the What’s After High School? Program she created in 2005.

Darnieder visited the Alamance-Burlington Schools a couple days last spring to observe the schools’ federally funded programs and to encourage school officials to keep doing what they are doing: keeping students in class and on track for success after high school.

Darnieder told the Enterprise: “Robyn’s fundamental belief in young people struck me the first time we met. One of our national challenges is attaining 8.2 million additional postsecondary graduates, as the President has put forth, in order for the United States to regain the number one college graduation ranking in the world.”

Darnieder went on to say about Hadley’s belief in the potential of young people and support for them beyond high school: “But this can only be done by combining the foundational belief in young people’s potential, while utilizing community resources in partnership with school districts to create support systems and pathways for student success.”

About Hadley’s commitment to champion success for today’s youth, Darnieder said: “Robyn has put herself in the middle of the national college graduation challenge in dynamic and powerful ways.”

Hadley said: “Our progress could not have happened without the administration, the principals, counselors, teachers, coaches and many more educators taking advantages of the resources we provide.

They have been getting the information out about the college access and readiness programs. I’m grateful to the Board of Education and the Superintendent who have made this work, “What’s After High School?” a priority in our community.”

“You never know who is watching the mountains you climb and the valleys you go through,” says Robyn Hadley, as she tells children, “Be prepared.”

Born and raised in Graham, Hadley was a senior at Graham High School and co-president of the Southern Association of Student Council when her school hosted a meeting of students from 13 states.

Hadley got to announce the keynote speaker, Alex Haley. He wanted to know what she was doing after high school.

Haley offered Hadley the funds to go to Harvard once she was accepted, but after graduation from Graham, Hadley chose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a Morehead Scholar at Chapel Hill and a Rhodes Scholar.

The national Champion of Change winner from the White House was a first generation graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a product of Head Start.

Hadley went to Oxford for graduate studies in political science, and for almost 20 years, worked in the private sector in international trade.

What’s After High School? Program
Upcoming events

“Success By Design”
College Access Conference
Sept. 28
at Graham High School
9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
College Fair at Elon University
at the gym - free and open to the public
Monday, Sept. 16
6:30 - 8 p.m.