Alternative programs help teen moms struggling to graduate

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Despite the best efforts of educators the latest data finds nearly 20% of high schoolers in South Carolina don’t graduate.

That’s especially true with students who face special challenges like teenage pregnancy.

But in recent years, those students have been able to take advantage of new resources  that are helping those kids graduate, despite the hardships.   

Shemaria clark will tell you, it’s no secret her 10-month-old, Tyrell Broughton, was a big surprise.

She was only 15 when she got pregnant.
 
“I was missing a lot of days because I had morning sickness and I was like I can’t do it so I should just do home school.”  
     
This past week, the now 17-year-old graduated from Carolina High one year early.

“My teachers they were like you need to graduate because you’re having a son, so they let me come after school or come during lunch to do my work and they would tutor me and things like that,” she said.

Clark also took advantage of online courses through Virtual SC, Greenville County Schools.

Her school counselor, Liz Hodges says it’s all about not giving up on struggling students. 

“We had a student the week before graduation, flopped out or he didn’t come to school and our assistant principal and principal showed up at his house and  I said Anthony you have 5 minutes get in the car. He finished he graduated,” said Hodges.

17-year-old Lillie Golden and her son Luke were in a similar spot to Clark.  She’s now graduating from Cyber Academy of South Carolina Saturday.  

“There were hundreds of people if not thousands of people who did what I’ve done in a regular school but now it’s easier and I feel like there won’t be as many teen dropouts,” said Golden. 

“We still have attendance requirements. The students still have to make sure that they are present. But we give them the flexibility that they need to be able to work,” said Courtney Kountz with Cyber Academy of S.C.

It’s important to note, there is a big difference between the online charter schools and the virtual schools offered by the state and various counties, mainly that the Charter Schools can screen students. So if there has been a prior history of absenteeism, that person may not be accepted. 

These young moms, grateful their sons will grow up knowing how hard they’ve worked.

“My child is my motivation now,” said Clark.

“It’s like the proudest moment of my life,” said Golden.     

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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