Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett was among the recipients of the Crystal Star Awards of Excellence, given by Clemson's National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett was among the recipients of the Crystal Star Awards of Excellence, given by Clemson’s National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.
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ATLANTA — Clemson University’s National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) honored the 2013 recipients of the Crystal Star Awards of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention at its recent national conference.

The recipients were recognized at the 25th annual National Dropout Prevention Network Conference in Atlanta, which was sponsored by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network in partnership with the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Regional Educational Service Agencies and Communities In Schools of Georgia.

Bill Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education and host of the national radio show “Morning in America,” was awarded the Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention for Lifetime Achievement for National Impact.

In education, government and the private sector, Bennett has been a champion for education and at-risk youth. A former professor at Boston University, the University of Texas and Harvard University, he served as secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan and was the nation’s first director of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

The New Directions Alternative Education Center in Manassas, Va., and the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program in New York, N.Y., received the Crystal Star Program Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention.

New Directions offers educational placement for high school students who have been expelled, received long-term suspensions or been unsuccessful in their schools. Since its opening in 2004, New Directions has developed dropout-recovery programs, put intervention strategies in place and helped schools establish effective prevention programs. More than 1,000 at-risk students have graduated from high school since the program began, and on-time graduation rates have exceeded 90 percent during the last three years.

Created by the Community for Education Foundation, the Overcoming Obstacles program trains teachers to teach students skills in self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. The program is offered at no cost to school districts. Participation in the program has led to improved academic performance, reductions in school violence, increased graduation rates, career and college preparedness, and general life satisfaction.

Karen Cooper-Haber of Richland School District Two in Columbia and Malvine Richard of the Christina School District in Wilmington, Del., were awarded the Crystal Star Individual Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention.

Cooper-Haber’s work in the field of dropout prevention spans four decades. She is the coordinator of Family Intervention Services in Richland School District Two, one of South Carolina’s largest school districts. She is the founder of Building Bridges to Success, a program aimed at helping at-risk students by focusing on school-community collaboration, family engagement, mentoring, after-school opportunities and service-learning as solutions to the dropout problem.

An educator with 33 years of experience in dropout prevention, Richard is the supervisor of Non-Traditional Programs and School Discipline for the Christina School District. She also helped start the Sarah Pyle Academy for Academic Intensity, a school for students who have been marginalized in traditional schools. Recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 16 schools with exemplary practices for dropout recovery, Sarah Pyle Academy offers an accelerated two-year program that employs distance-learning courses, optional summer programs, dual-enrollment programs, homebound instruction and home visits from intervention specialists.

John Peters was awarded the Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention for Distinguished Leadership and Service.

In his 22 years with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, Peters has served in member services, fiscal management and conferences. In 1997, he assumed leadership of conference operations and has worked with leaders and planning committees across the U.S. to provide opportunities for professional development for more than 20,000 individuals.

Founded in 1986 with Clemson University as its base, the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network is a clearinghouse for issues related to dropout prevention and offers strategies to increase American high school graduation rates.

Through research initiatives, publications and professional development activities, the NDPC/N works to increase awareness of successful programs and policies and also to improve educational opportunities for young people across the U.S.

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