Clemson center, Usher foundation to tackle dropout prevention through music industry courses
ATLANTA – Clemson University’s National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) and recording artist Usher’s New Look Foundation will partner to develop high school courses that will capitalize on student interest in pop culture and prepare students for careers in the music industry.
The partnership was announced at the 25th annual National Dropout Prevention Network Conference earlier this month in Atlanta.
Founded by the Atlanta singer to support college-career readiness among young people, the New Look Foundation will work with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network to develop a curriculum that provides exposure to the marketing, communication, creative design, mathematics and language arts skills necessary for rewarding careers in the music industry.
“This curriculum isn’t intended to necessarily prepare musicians, but to show the breadth of careers in music industry and the skills you need to pursue those careers,” said Beth Reynolds, the organization’s executive director.
The curriculum will be launched in the fall of 2014 and offered to school districts across the nation.
The New Look Foundation will access the NDPC/N’s expertise in engaging and supporting at-risk learners, Reynolds said. The NDPC/N will provide input into the course development process and research the effectiveness of the program.
Bringing together more than 800 school board members, state leaders, policymakers and practitioners from across the nation, the National Dropout Prevention Network Conference focused attention on the issue of school dropout and provided strategies for increasing graduation rates. The event was sponsored by the NDPC/N in partnership with the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Regional Educational Service Agencies, and Communities in Schools of Georgia.
The conference drew attention both throughout Georgia and the nation, as Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal proclaimed Nov. 4 Dropout Prevention Awareness Day and Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” broadcast live from the conference to more than 3 million listeners. Reynolds and Clemson College of Health, Education and Human Development Dean Larry Allen appeared on the broadcast during the conference.
The event included a student panel of the New Look Foundation and addresses by Bill Bennett and Bill Milliken, founder and vice chairman of Communities in Schools, one of the nation’s leading dropout-prevention organizations. Also part of the conference were professional development opportunities, site visits to exemplary Atlanta-area dropout-prevention programs and a special strand of educational sessions for school board members.
The event also featured the awarding of the 2013 Crystal Star Awards of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention. This year’s recipients were Bennett; New Directions Alternative Education Center in Manassas, Va.; the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program in New York City; Karen Cooper-Haber of Richland School District Two in Columbia, S.C., Malvine Richard of the Christina School District in Wilmington, Del.; and John Peters, longtime member of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network staff.
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.