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The Dropout Report: A safety net

Tulsa Technology Center aims to create a clearinghouse for serving current and potential dropouts in Tulsa County.

Tulsa Technology Center has taken the lead toward creating a centralized clearinghouse for dropouts in Tulsa County. With the implementation of the system’s new Success Centers in fall 2009, Tulsa Tech will serve former, current and new students, ages 12 to adult, who need alternatives to traditional school.

The key, says Dr. Richard Palazzo, Tulsa Tech’s director of alternative education, is identifying students before they drop out of school and providing a safety net to support them.

The Success Centers will include three full-time staff, two teachers and a certified counselor or social worker, as well as a variety of services for students, Palazzo says. These include an initial assessment of individual interests and academic skills; counseling for training and career options; credit recovery for older students who need a few credits to graduate; accrual credit (first-time credit) for students whose districts do not offer a needed course during the current semester; remediation for End-of-Instruction testing; GED, ACT and SAT preparation; employment assistance services; interview skills and resume building; and follow-up services for those needing a referral to youth-serving social service agencies.

The first Success Centers will be located at the Broken Arrow, Peoria and Lemley campuses, opening in August, September and October, respectively.

Tulsa Tech also recently expanded its Blueprint for Building Futures program, which arose out of Tulsa’s 2008 dropout summit and was developed to encourage dropouts to get a General Education Development (GED) certificate through “work-based” learning.

Newly renamed YouthBuild, the program allows eligible 18- to 22-year-olds to spend 18 weeks earning construction and GED certification, followed by 160 hours of construction work on a job site, all while earning $10 per hour. A new grant has allowed this program to expand its services to a larger population, and reimburses participating construction companies $6 per hour. Additionally, construction companies may choose to hire some YouthBuild participants.

After the first four weeks of the program, students will spend Fridays job shadowing at three local entities, Youth Services’ youth transition housing, Habitat for Humanity projects and Tulsa Housing Authority properties, for a chance to give back to the community. Youth Services also is providing case management services and a community youth specialist to the program.

Tulsa Tech also continues to offer a variety of career-training choices throughout the metropolitan area.

“Tulsa Tech has been one of the best-kept secrets in the county,” Palazzo says. “People know that the campuses exist, but they’re still not as aware as they should be about all the different offerings that we have.”

For more information, call 828-5000 or visit



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