Although she has been doing it all along, the state of Georgia has officially created a position for her job.
Pat Farner, guidance counselor for Thomson High School, will become the new graduation coach that is now required by the Georgia General Assembly for the 2006-2007 school year.
According to House Bill 1027, each local school district is awarded grant funds to hire a graduation coach who will provide assistance to students who exhibit a high probability of not graduating.
"THS feels fortunate to have Pat Farner in this position," said Lynn Cato, the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at THS. "She genuinely cares for each student and makes it her mission to see that each one graduates. Evidence of this is found in the special group of ‚ÄòJ-Grads' with whom she worked this year. ... Several of these students did finish on time."
The graduation coach is a new position to which Ms. Farner will be transferred. Ms. Cato said a replacement will be hired to fill the vacated guidance counselor position.
The job description in literature from the Georgia Department of Education states the graduation coach will gather and analyze data, identify potential barriers to graduation and implement intervention strategies, identify "bubble students" - which are those who are 5 percent above or below proficiency level, coordinate a transition program for ninth graders to successfully adept to the rigors of high school, conduct quarterly meetings among elementary, middle, and high school faculty to develop action steps, and develop an individual plan for each student to graduate.
The position will also require extra training, which is being scheduled by the state DOE to take place sometime in August, October and January.
"We believe that (Ms. Farner's) dedication to the school and to the students will benefit this community," Ms. Cato said. "Research clearly underscores the notion that students perform at higher levels when they know that the adults around them are emotionally invested in them. The graduation coach will be able to work closely with families, faculty, and the BOE to show students who are at promise that they can reach their potential."