Dalton State’s Next Step Program Guides High School Seniors

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Among the Next Step faculty and administration are, from left, Dr. Angela Harris, assistant vice president of Dalton State College and executive director of the Next Step program; Debra Sloan, math instructor; Carlton Thomas, English and transitions instructor; Chad Murray, math instructor; Sarah McCown, Next Step administrative assistant; Diana Gibson, English instructor; Paula Callicutt, director, Next Step; and Nancy Zelinsky, English instructor.
Among the Next Step faculty and administration are, from left, Dr. Angela Harris, assistant vice president of Dalton State College and executive director of the Next Step program; Debra Sloan, math instructor; Carlton Thomas, English and transitions instructor; Chad Murray, math instructor; Sarah McCown, Next Step administrative assistant; Diana Gibson, English instructor; Paula Callicutt, director, Next Step; and Nancy Zelinsky, English instructor.

Aided by a grant from the Workforce Investment Act, Dalton State College is working to bring together retired educators and high school seniors for the Next Step Program which provides area students with the opportunities to improve their math, reading, and English skills, explore career interests, develop work readiness skills, and transition to post-secondary options.

The innovative transition program is under the direction of Executive Director Dr. Angela Harris, who also serves as assistant vice president of Enrollment and Student Services at Dalton State.

The program, which Dalton State operates in partnership with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, enlists highly qualified educators with decades of experience in teaching and administration to guide the students toward their college and career goals.

Paula Callicutt, retired with more than 30 years’ experience as a public school teacher, serves as the Next Step program director. According to Dr. Harris, Callicutt’s vast experience provides her with the knowledge base and skills necessary to effectively navigate within the three distinct systems of public school, higher education, and business and industry.

One of the many benefits of the program is the relationship between Dalton State and Dalton Public, Murray County, and Whitfield County school systems. “The beautiful feature of Next Step is that we have working partnerships with three public school systems, the College, and business and industry,” says Ms. Callicutt. Participating students have the opportunity to visit Dalton State, meet students and faculty, and complete community projects.

The Next Step Program aims to see participating students graduate from high school and take the next step on the path to success by entering the workforce, military, or by successfully completing of a post-secondary program. “These students will be better prepared to take that ‘next step’ towards becoming successful individuals and improving the quality of life for themselves and their families,” Ms. Callicutt said.

Students are provided individualized instruction in math, reading, and English based on their strengths and weaknesses as determined by Tests of Adult Basic Education skills assessments and other evaluation instruments.

“If students need particular help passing graduation testing, SAT or ACT, instruction is geared specifically toward that goal,” says Ms. Callicutt.  “Should students have an interest in a particular career, efforts are made to create opportunities to make contact with experts in that field though job shadowing or other specific networking.”

The program consists of courses taught on-site at Murray County, North Murray, Dalton, and Morris Innovative high schools that are comprised of two main components: an academic feature that will focus on supplemental instruction in reading, math, and English, and a college and career element that centers on transitioning to college and/or occupational skills and employment preparation.

The course runs concurrently with the high school student’s academic year, and each student will earn an elective course credit upon completion.

Next Step faculty includes: Nancy Zelinsky, language arts/reading and writing; Carlton Thomas, language arts/reading and writing; Diana Gibson, language arts/reading and writing; Debra Sloan, mathematics; Chad Murray, mathematics; and Sherry Burgess, transition coach and career planning.

The Near Peer Program, a previous transition program at Dalton State that paved the way for Next Step, recorded impressive results with participating pupils, Dr. Harris said. After completing the Near Pear Program, students scored significantly higher on COMPASS tests which are used for college placement purposes and to determine where remedial classes are needed. Students recorded a 33 percent increase in algebra, a 23 percent increase in writing, and a 12 percent gain in reading scores at the end of the semester-long program. There was also a 43 percent reduction in the number of remedial classes indicated after completing the program.

Sarah McCown, administrative assistant/program director for Next Step, anticipates that this new and improved program will yield even better results. “We had impressive results from our Near Peer students last year,” Ms. McCown says, “and we’re encouraged that Next Step is a program that could have an even bigger impact on educational attainment levels for our area and could be replicated in communities across the state.”

Screening is underway now to identify Next Step students for the fall semester. Those with questions about the Next Step Program are invited to contact Sarah McCown at smccown@daltonstate.edu or Paula Callicutt at pcallicutt@daltonstate.edu.

Next Step students from North Murray High School enjoy their day on campus at Dalton State.
Next Step students from North Murray High School enjoy their day on campus at Dalton State.

Augustine Named Recipient Of Lee’s Excellence In Scholarship Award

Dr. Daniela C. Augustine, associate professor of theological ethics, has been named as the recipient of Lee University’s 2016 Excellence in Scholarship Award. The winner of this award is chosen each year by the Faculty Committee on Research and Scholarship. Lee President Dr. Paul Conn officially recognized Dr. Augustine for this award during spring commencement earlier this ... (click for more)

East Ridge High School Unveils New Uniforms At McDonald's Fundraiser

The East Ridge High School football team will be sporting new uniforms this season thanks to a community supported fundraiser hosted by the Ringgold Road McDonald’s restaurant.      The McDonald’s parking lot, turned fundraising headquarters, played host to the team as they waved signs and asked McDonald’s customers for donations. McDonald’s is the sponsor of ... (click for more)

CBL & Associates Stockholder Accuses Chattanooga-Based Mall Owner Of Security Fraud; CBL Denies Any Wrongdoing

A stockholder of CBL & Associates is suing the Chattanooga-based mall owner in Chattanooga Federal Court, claiming its officials artificially inflated the value of the company's stock. Tommy French, of Baton Rouge, La., brought the action against CBL, President Stephen Lebovitz and Vice President Farzana Mitchell. He claims that CBL officials made false and misleading ... (click for more)

Carmody Found Guilty Of First-Degree Felony Murder; Sentenced To Life In Prison

Patrick Carmody was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery in Judge Barry Steelman’s courtroom on Friday. He was charged with the slaying of 21-year-old Chance LeCroy on Sept. 9, 2010. The state’s account of the incident claimed that Carmody, Ronald Pittman, and Billy Bob Partin traveled ... (click for more)

Case Handled Like Any Other? - And Response

It is interesting that Chief Fletcher would deem the handling of the Mayor's encounter as typical or normal. Is the Chief asking the public to believe that all misdemeanor domestic violence arrests include a 4-hour taped interrogation, and delayed reporting after a visit to the Chief’s house. Of course, we believe that Chief Fletcher. April Eidson * * *  I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Best Speech This Year

Just 24 hours after Donovan Livingston gave The Student’s Speech at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education convocation on Wednesday, it had been viewed over 3 million times and shared 75,000 times on Facebook. It is already considered, far and away, as the freshest view on race and education in ages and its viral journey is burning across the Internet. His talk was ... (click for more)