Guilford County Schools considering cutting graduation coach positions 

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The Guilford County school system is considering cutting 15 graduation coach positions at the high school level in order to meet budget constraints.

Graduation coaches target students who are not on track to earn a diploma and help them take after school or online classes to catch up.

These coaches also partner with social workers to make home visits and help parents see the importance of attendance and graduation.

Since Eric Rainey began his role as graduation coach in 2007 at Southwest High School, the dropout rate has improved from over 3 percent to 1.15 percent last year.

He and his graduation team helps students understand early on that “not graduating is not an option.”

He hangs pictures in his office on a Wall of Fame to show the students he’s helped over the years.

“When we first meet with them, kids who are off track to graduate, there’s a look of hopelessness. Graduation is not even a thought of theirs,” Rainey explains. “That’s where the constant monitoring, and constant meeting, constant pressuring and pestering pays off. Because the end result is smiling faces walking across the stage.”

Eliminating these 15 positions would save the school system about $1.1 million.

Last year GCS had the highest graduation rate ever. Rainey worries cutting these jobs will eventually have a negative impact on the graduation rate when students who are “on the edge” won’t have a mentor.

“Without the graduation coach position, they would not be here. That wall would be empty,” he said, looking at the Wall of Fame. “My concern is not me. I’ll always find a job. But what about those kids?”

Southwest senior Cody Pells says coaches like Rainey helped get her through high school.

“I guess Senioritis kinda kicked in a little earlier than expected,” she joked. “Sophomore year, things just kinda went downhill.”

But Pells is now planning to graduate in June and aspires to go to college and one day be a veterinarian.

“I think without a graduation coach, how else would you expect other kids to do what they needed to do to get across the stage?” she questioned.

Rainey’s principal has found a way to keep him at Southwest next year, but they worry other schools may not have any flexibility.

The Board of Guilford County Commissioners met Tuesday with the Board of Education for a work session to discuss budget concerns.

7 comments

  • FaithC

    “I think without a graduation coach, how else would you expect other kids to do what they needed to do to get across the stage?” she questioned.”

    How about pay attention from day one and get an education. Now there is a plan.

  • C-lo

    Too many kids are graduating high school and can’t even do simple math. Some can’t even read. But they graduate. It’s unbelievable. I can read, write, AT LEAST do BASIC math, and I don’t ever recall even HEARING about any such thing as a ‘graduation coach’ when I graduated high school. Kids slack off all through their school years, and then need a “coach” to help them fake it through to the end? No wonder there are so many stupid high school graduates walking around. It’s just ridiculous.

  • BP

    WHEN IS GCS GONNA START HOLDING PARENTS RESPONSIBLE ITS NOT A COACHES JOB TO MAKE SURE A CHILD GRADUATES ITS THE CHILD AND THE PARENTS WHILE YOU ARE AT IT GCS GET RID OF THAT DOG ON GRADUATION PROJECT IT SHOULD BE A REQUIREMENT FOR ALL HIGH SCHOOLS NOT SOME IF IM NOT MISTAKEN ANDREWS HAS NO SENIOR PROJECT

  • Crystal

    Graduation coach? I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Seriously?? Where are their parents? Not graduating is not an option for my children either, but they don’t need a graduation coach to tell them that?!? What a waste of money…utter disbelief…

  • chucky1992

    Back in my day (70’s-80’s), your “graduation coach” was your parents. The closest thing the school had to that would have been the “guidance counselor”. Do they still have them?

  • Ana

    Not every child is lucky to have parents, and not every parent–for whatever reason–is a good role model. Having an adult as a mentor at school could be life-changing for some people. Sometimes, it’s not easy to develop a relationship with a teacher because of the academic expectation, but a graduation coach offers a less judgemental point of view. In other words, it is easy for teachers to NOT develop a relationship with a student because the student is failing.

  • Middle Grades Teacher

    Since Eric Rainey began his role as graduation coach in 2007 at Southwest High School, the dropout rate has improved from over 3 percent to 1.15 percent last year.

    Since Mr. Rainey has begun his work that some are labeling as unnecessary…..the proof is in the pudding. We can argue about whether it SHOULD be necessary but not over whether or not it IS necessary.

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