When Mary started her sophomore year at Bear River High School, it was the twelfth school she had attended. While her family had always been supportive, all of the transfers had gotten her in the habit of missing a lot of school. Mary found a great support system at Bear River, and they helped her improve her attendance, but when her senior year started, she had a lot of missing credits and was not on track to graduate with her class.
Mary started working with Ashlee, an AmeriCorps Read.Graduate.Succeed. mentor supported by United Way of Northern Utah. “She had a lot of missing credits,” said Ashlee, “because they didn’t all transfer across state lines.” Mary spent the year working on credit recovery, while at the same time keeping up with her current coursework. All her time studying has paid off, and Mary will be able to graduate on time with her class. “She’s amazing! She’s got grit,” said Ashlee.
Ashlee works with about 60 students to improve attendance and help with credit recovery. More than that, she provides a place where students feel like they belong. When students are struggling, Ashlee said, “they just need to feel like ‘somebody cares about me.’” Mary agrees, often spending lunch and free time in the library near Ashlee’s office. Ashlee is sad to see her seniors graduate and move on, but said it’s exciting “to see how many kids are going on to bigger and better.”
The future looks bright for Mary, who will be at Ogden-Weber Technical College working toward her cosmetology license starting this summer. In the meantime, she’s ready to graduate in front of a crowd of friends and family. “I’ve got a lot of people who care a lot about me, so there’s lots that are coming to my graduation and we’re all really excited.”