Jessica freely admits she can’t sit still.
In fact, even when sitting down to talk about her story, Jessica’s eyes dart around the room looking for anything of interest, whether it’s the Buffalo Bills poster hanging on the wall, the jar of candies sitting on the teacher’s desk, or the activity happening out in the school’s hallway.
As she speaks, Jessica begins to swivel her chair, moving from right to left and then back again.
It's not that she's nervous; Jessica simply gets bored very easily.
In fact, she says that need to be constantly on the move led to her difficulties in school. "I had a tough time concentrating in class. I always wanted to be doing something else," she says.
And more often than not, Jessica found something else to do. A mix of sporadic attendance and effort in class resulted in her dropping out of school on three different occasions. Each time she returned to school, the same issues prevented her from being successful.
"I just felt like I was stuck; thank goodness for Mrs. Belanger."
Anna Belanger is the school's Student Success Teacher. Belanger works with the Student Success Team to provide extra attention and support for individual students who need additional assistance to be successful in school. Support can include more options for learning, such as expanded co-operative education, Specialist High Skills Majors, Credit Recovery, dual credits and e-learning opportunities. Every secondary school in the DSBN has a student success team in place.
All my options are open now and I like that.
In Jessica's case, the Credit Recovery program was determined to be the best option to help her get the credits she needed to graduate on time. Credit recovery is a class where students are given packages of assigned work that allow them to meet the curriculum expectations of a number of different subjects without having to repeat each individual course.
"Sometimes students can feel overwhelmed," says Belanger. "They think that because they’re behind in their credits they’ll have to extend their time in high school by months or even years. But, there are so many options to help them catch up. Once students begin to realize that graduation is a real possibility, they become much more motivated to work towards that finish line."
For Jessica, the support from her Student Success Teacher was critical. “She really made me understand that you need your high school diploma to get anywhere in life. Whenever I got discouraged, she was there to keep me going,” says Jessica.
Through her hard work in Credit Recovery and her coop placement, Jessica was able to complete her high school diploma, and graduate on time with her friends.
"Graduating felt awesome. I left school floating on a cloud."
Now that she's a high school graduate, Jessica’' not content to stop there. She's ready to begin looking at her post-secondary options. Right now, she's considering interior design, perhaps business.
"I may also look into real estate like my mom. You never know," she says.
"All my options are open now and I like that."