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Suspension and drop out rates in Person County have gone down in the last school year, mirroring a statewide trend.
Person County Schools Deputy Superintendent Jarrod Dennis says there are a lot of reasons the rates are improving. “It’s not just one thing that we’re doing. It’s a lot of different things,” Dennis said.
School administrators and teachers use tools such as character education and motivational speakers to help students stay in school and remain on the right side of the rules.
Those efforts have resulted in a decrease in the number of crime reports within district levels all across the state including Person County.
Suspensions have dropped 14.8 percent statewide over the course of the last five years.
“Our short term suspensions over the last two years have gone down drastically,” said Dennis.
According to Dennis, the number of suspensions in Person County have dropped from 900 in 2016-17 to around 700 last year.
This number represents the amount of times students have been suspended, not the total number of students were suspended.
Drop out rates have also decreased.
Over the last school year, dropouts have fallen from 1.9 percent in 2016-17 to 1.83 percent in 2017-18. Last school year, 37 students dropped out of Person County Schools, compared to 39 the year before.
Educators are looking for alternative methods to removing students from class for misbehaving.
“Last year we didn’t have any actual long-term suspensions. We had some kids that were referred to alternative programs because they made certain bad decisions,” said Dennis.
Dennis says each school system operates differently, but he said Person County is trying to keep those students in school.
‘Acknowledging the choices being made’
Earlier this week, a motivational speaker from Charlotte named Mike Hall visited Person County to reach out to students.
Hall based his speech around heroism and how every person is capable of being their own hero according to the choices that they make.
Hall spoke to fourth- and fifth-graders at Oak Lane Elementary School on Wednesday.
Challenges are part of being heroic and Hall uses personal life experiences when delivering his message to reach out to students.
Hall told students his father was in the military and he had to move around every few years growing up.
In the fourth-grade he had a friend who was also named Mike.
He recalls joining him at the playground on the swing set, but feeling a sense of jealousy because the other child got to the swings first.
Hall grabbed a rock and threw it in the air and when the other child was coming back down it nearly hit him in the eye.
“If that rock had been one inch lower it would have hit him in the eye and Mike could have been blind for the rest of his life,” Hall told the students. “My goal today is that when we walk out of this room we will start making better choices.”
Dennis said the school system is continuing its effort to reduce suspensions.
“We are making a concerted effort to keep our schools safe and to keep our students safe. We keep working to try to bring down these numbers and we will keep working at it,” said Dennis.