Graduation coaches from throughout Middle Tennessee recently gathered for a free summit hosted by Wilson County Schools.
The Graduation Coach Summit was held at College Hills Church of Christ and was free for both the local coaches and those from eight other counties.
"The purpose of graduation coaches is to identify and help at-risk students so they don't fall through the cracks and get the help they need to graduate," Stan Moss, supervisor of graduation coaches for Wilson County Schools, said.
In 2010, Wilson County's graduation rate stood at 89 percent. That year, the district hired four graduation coaches - one for each high school, Moss recalled.
Moss said that many local students who may have given up on school and dropped out a few years ago have found new levels of support through the graduation coaches. According to the numbers, these coaches are making an impact.
"Last school year, 2014-15, our graduation rate was 96.3 percent, an increase of 7.3 percent in only four school years," Moss said. "Wilson County's graduation rate continues to exceed the state average and ranks as one of the highest in the state of Tennessee."
Personnel from Wilson County Schools led each of the five sessions, including Susan Dean, education information system specialist; J. Jeremy Redmon, Lebanon High School graduation coach; Marci Murrell, Watertown graduation coach; Brandon Cook, TVOLS instructor; Mary Ashby, Adult High School principal; Patti Huffman, Adult High School counselor; and Moss.
Graduation coaches from the following eight counties attended as well: Cheatham, Dickson, Macon, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Warren and Williamson. Redmon said several other counties were invited as well, including Cannon, Cumberland, Jackson, Putnam, Smith, Sumner and Trousdale.
"We hope to expand it next year during the 2016-2017 Graduation Coach Summit tentatively planned for late fall," Redmon said.
"We are so appreciative of the summit's sponsors - Zaxby's, Olive Garden, Kroger of Lebanon and College Hills," Moss added. "Because of them, we could have this day of training and sharing for free."