Graduation Coach

Women’s basketball coach, Lauren Thompson, works with students to improve DHS graduation rate

By Megan Sarns

If you’ve been around Dexter Community Schools for a while, you’ve probably run into Lauren Thompson. With a list of credentials including (but not limited to) experience as a student teacher, substitute teacher, choir instructor, and women’s basketball and volleyball coach, Thompson is taking on a new role at DHS this year: graduation coach.

“My job is to make sure that every student at Dexter has the opportunity to graduate,” Thompson explained. “That can mean anything from providing resources and eliminating barriers…and working with counselors to create a plan for each student.”

Thompson provides academic support for students that otherwise may not get it, and that can make all the difference. “Kids like somebody holding them accountable,” she said.

Teachers don’t mind the extra help either. Teachers can recognize when their students might be struggling to keep up with their work, but with up to thirty students in each class, they may not be able to give every student the assistance they need. “Now, they know who to call and say ‘this student needs help.’”

Thompson was hired at the end of June, and the graduation coach program was recommended by superintendent Dr. Chris Timmis.

“In 2016, having a high school diploma is automatically expected,” Principal Kit Moran said. “[if a student doesn’t have a diploma] they are at a significant disadvantage.”

Because the graduation rate at DHS has dropped slightly over the past few years, having someone in the building whose job is specifically to deal with this problem and these students was found to be the best approach.

Leo Theisen, a senior at DHS, has always struggled in school. This year, he’s been working with Thompson and is already seeing improvement.

“My grades would be a lot worse if she wasn’t helping me,” Theisen said. “She’s helped me out with schoolwork and makes sure I turn in assignments.”

In addition to keeping an eye on his grades, Thompson works one-on-one with Theisen on his math homework and other problem areas.

“We have a relatively small [graduation] problem,” Moran explained. Currently, DHS graduates about 93 percent of their students. With each graduating class averaging around three hundred students, that statistic means that with every 1 percent drop, three kids aren’t graduating. “If [Thompson’s] intervention results in one kid getting a diploma that wouldn’t have otherwise, that’s huge.”

In regards to how her work could significantly impact the future of DHS students, Thompson said, “It’s a new adventure, but I feel very fortunate to be able to do this.”