The Dropout Report: Back on track
Candas Bullock, principal of Tulsa Academic Center, describes the changes the program has undergone to help better serve Tulsa Public Schools students.
How TAC has progressed:
- A cap on the number of students that may be enrolled at TAC — 120 students.
- We have created a sense of community in the building. I believe the faculty and staff have worked extremely hard to create a climate of mutual respect in the building.
- Weekly faculty meetings that communicate information both within the school and within the district
- The supports that were to be in place last year are in place.
- Smaller classes (maximum of 10 students).
- Drug counseling services through Palmer Continuum of Care Inc.
- Licensed counselor through CREOKS.
- Addition of a parent facilitator to aid in parent involvement.
- Highly qualified teachers in all positions.
How TAC differs from other alternative programs:
(TAC) provides a structured, disciplinary education program that is based on a military approach aimed at modifying inappropriate behaviors and teaches self-discipline and leadership skills through military strategies. (We) stress the importance of team building.
(TAC) provides a socialization process that assures the development of a positive self-image and an increased motivation to return to the traditional school environment.
Tactics TAC follows to prevent dropouts:
- Contact with parents and probation officers for assistance.
- Follow-up on students.
- Use of credit recovery to aid in getting students on grade level.
- Counseling with students.
- Building relations that place emphasis on the students' individual needs.
- Professional development to aid in actively engaging students.
Future goals for TAC:
- Service learning — to integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection in order to enrich the learning experience.
- Improve transitional strategies from TAC to students’ home schools.
- Increase follow-up on students who return to home schools.
- Continue establishing and building relationships with parents and the community for support.
- Continue working to improve student attendance.
- Incorporate aspects of the Big Picture Learning schools.
- Align the military strategies to social skills development removing the (negative connotation).
- Continue finding mentors for students.
- Continue seeking a “Partner in Education” (thanks, Girls Inc.).
What makes the difference:
Any success TAC experienced this year is the result of a collaborative effort — faculty/staff, district leadership, parents and community volunteers. (We would) also like businesses or groups to partner with us.