Faculty News

Meece, Horner project wins Community-Campus Partnership grant

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Judith Meece

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Martinette Horner

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School of Education faculty members Judith Meece and Martinette Horner have been awarded a $9,400 grant from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Community-Campus Partnership to conduct an analysis of school drop-out events in Caswell County and to work with Caswell County Schools Superintendent Douglas Barker to design a retention program.

The Community-Campus Partnership, a campus-wide initiative to forge effective partnerships with economically-distressed communities in North Carolina, offers small grants ranging from $500 to $20,000 to full-time faculty, staff, or students of UNC-Chapel Hill to support projects that align with local priorities in Caswell and/or Lenoir counties. Projects must build local capacity, skills, or knowledge to address current and future challenges in the areas of community and economic development, education, infrastructure, or public health; and/or improve the livability and viability of local communities.

During the 2009-2010 school year there were 37 reported drop-out events in Caswell County. Although the district has reduced drop-outs by half since 2005, the current losses are still significant for a small, rural community. The School of Education project will focus on initiatives to increase high school graduation rates.

Focus group interviews will be conducted with students, school counsellors, and parents. Analysis of the interview data will be combined with research on effective school retention programs to provide recommendations for the Caswell County Schools partners.

“Rural school districts not only have more difficulty obtaining financial resources for dropout prevention, but there are fewer community resources available for students who withdraw,” said Meece, professor of educational psychology. In the past, these young people might have entered the work force through farm work or industrial jobs, but in Caswell County, these industries are now in short supply.

“In addition, job training, health services, and social services are less available in rural areas to help them make the transition to adulthood,” Meece said. “Our project will focus on initiatives to increase high school graduation rates in Caswell County, to help find a better path for young people who, despite challenges, have strong ties to this community.”