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Community: Performance Learning Center Helps At-Risk Durham Youth

by Mary Catherine Benson / Carolina Hurricanes

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, I spent the morning with the teachers and students of Communities In Schools of Durham’s Performance Learning Center, an organization to which the Kids 'N Community Foundation provided funding.

Mary Catherine Benson
The Performance Learning Center (PLC) is an alternative school for at-risk youth from Durham Public Schools. Each year, over 400 Durham students drop out of high school, and one out of three teens do not graduate on time. The PLC is a collaborative project between Communities in Schools of Durham and Durham Public Schools created to actively combat these alarming statistics. Located in the Holton Center, their state-of-the-art facility caters to 120 students who are at risk of dropping out or have already dropped out.

With the help of dedicated instructors, an online curriculum lets students work at their own pace. Their graduation coach, Sarah, is determined to set up each student for success. Sarah gave me a detailed tour of the school; it was her personal attention to each student we passed that displayed the dedication of the staff at PLC. Sarah shared stories of achievement coupled with personal hardship.

Every student at PLC receives an individualized graduation plan along with academic and emotional support from each staff member. Each student walking down the halls was neatly dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and a tie. Different color ties denoted the students that were excelling by completing credits. However, I noticed one student who was dressed sharp but not in the specific dress code. Brandon was the “Most Valuable Student” that week. As a reward, he did not have to abide by the dress code! He is determined to succeed at PLC and is motivated to complete as many credits as possible. (Last year he won an iPad for finishing a record number of credits.)

This Fall, the Kids ‘N Community Foundation provided funding to support the Performance Learning Center. Their commitment to the youth of our community is paramount; making sure that no child is left behind is not just a motto, but a policy. The staff, students and their parents work together to provide a healthy learning environment and the promise of bright futures.

Like them on Facebook to see their students’ remarkable achievements.

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