McDowell County Schools

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Dropout Prevention

McDowell Believe and Achieve Team was started in 2015-2016

McDowell Believe and Achieve team members include Natalie Gouge, Glenda Glenn, Pat Gross, Amy Moomaw, Lora Atkins, Charles Autrey, Chris Marsh, Brent Rowe, Ellen Miller, Mary Finley, Deeana Ray, Carlos Lopez, Rose Vang, and Victor O'Campo. We have added middle school students to this team. 
This group is working to find new and unique ways to re­-engage students and encourage them to persevere. The McDowell Believe and Achieve team, also known as the MBA, consists of students, teachers, administrators, and community members. Members of the MBA team have presented to church groups and business and civic organizations in an effort to raise funds for programming designed to reach all students and re-­energize students and teachers.

Friends of Rachel Club

The Friends of Rachel Club is just one of the many benefits of having Rachel's Challenge at McDowell High school and at our Middle Schools. This unique program provides the opportunity for our schools to partner with Rachel's Challenge to continue the chain reaction of kindness and compassion in our school and community.
Currently, the Friends of Rachel Club has around 30 members. The Club meets every Tuesday at 7:45 in the Media Center.

Follow us on Twitter @FORClub_MHS

BOOST-Business Outreach Opportunities for Suspended Teens

An alternative suspension program


The McDowell County Schools BOOST program seeks to offer opportunities for 6th-12th-grade students to connect with their community through meaningful community service as an alternative to out of school suspension (OSS) and to increase a sense of duty to the community in our youth.

The Data shows that in 2015-2016 there was a total of 328 students suspended from school. 56 of those students were suspended for 3 or more days. 69.8 percent of the total suspended are repeat offenders.


The goal is to prevent/decrease future suspensions/prevent repeat offenders and/or the student dropping out. Being suspended or expelled rises to the top as a significant predictor of dropping out of school.


To develop alternatives to out of school suspension (OSS), to reduce unsupervised student activity during suspensions, to avoid interruption in the academic process, and to avoid involvement in the court system.

Program Components

  • Community Volunteer Hours
  • Academic Opportunities
  • Counseling
  • Attendance Credit
  • Student Involvement-Student must adhere to the rules of BOOST and Worksite, complete the program and assigned work in order to receive academic credit for days out of the classroom.
  • Parent Involvement- Parent is responsible for initiating contact with BOOST Supervisor, providing transportation to the worksite and signing the Parent Program Responsibilities and Guidelines Form.
  • Agency Involvement- The agency will supervise the student, provide a specific time for classroom assignments, and communicate with the student, parent, and BOOST Supervisor.

Program Information

  • BOOST is a collaborative school/ community effort sponsored by McDowell County Schools.
  • BOOST is designed to target at-risk youth who have been suspended from school for 3 to 10 days. These students are at -risk for becoming involved in the juvenile court system, dropping out of school, and developing poor personal health habits.
  • BOOST combines community service with a chance to complete homework in a structured environment. As a result, students may begin a change in feelings of self-worth, which enhance positive behaviors at school and in the community.
  • Suspended students have an opportunity to report to one of the participating agencies to perform community service work during school hours.
  • Students may only enroll in BOOST 10 days per semester.

BOOST Benefits

  • The academic process is not interrupted because students receive homework assignments and spend a portion of the day completing assignments as directed by the BOOST Supervisor. Participants are not counted absent from school because a portion of the day is spent on academics.
  • Guidance Counseling Services are provided to the students to enhance their decision-making and goal-setting skills. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and to develop a plan to meet their personal goals.
  • Appreciation for community agencies and the services they provide is developed in the student. Students often receive personal satisfaction from giving back to the community.
  • Consultation with community agencies is established to assist students and families.
  • Services are coordinated with schools, families, community agencies, and businesses in order to best meet the needs of each student.

Worksites Confirmed for BOOST

Eastfield Global Magnet School
Glenwood Elementary School
Marion Elementary School
Nebo Elementary School
North Cove Elementary School
Old Fort Elementary School
Pleasant Gardens Elementary School
West Marion Elementary School
Technology Department
Senior Center
Hospice Store of Rutherford
McDowell County Parks and Recreation
Rusty's Legacy
Christian Clothing Closet
Addie's Chapel
Magical Moments
Hospice Store of McDowell
Mountain Gateway Museum
Carson House
Clinchfield Soup Kitchen

When a student is suspended 3-10 days, Principal or designee will decide if the student is offered BOOST. Principal or Designee will then share information about BOOST by providing parents with a brochure. Parents have the option to choose BOOST. Parents initiate contact with the BOOST Supervisor, Turner Kincaid to arrange worksite placement. Parents provide transportation to the worksite unless the student has an IEP that includes transportation or there is a huge need.

BOOST Contacts

Natalie Gouge, Director of Student Services
Turner Kincaid, BOOST Supervisor

Peer Group Connection-McDowell High School

Ensuring that 9th graders Make a Successful Transition into High School

Peer Group Connection(PGC) is an evidence-based and school-based leadership program that supports the transition from middle school to high school. PGC taps into the power of older students to create a nurturing supportive environment for incoming freshmen. This program is supported through the Center for Supportive Schools. The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Center for Supportive Schools a five-year grant to partner with up to 12 high schools to implement and evaluate PGC.

Natalie Gouge, Director of Student Services, and Edwin Spivey, MHS Principal, applied for this grant.

MHS was chosen. The funding from the grant will cover: Comprehensive training for two faculty advisors, a stakeholder team coordinator, and up to two additional stakeholders(includes eleven days of training, meals, overnight accommodations and training materials), On-site coaching and technical assistance support throughout the first two years of implementation, PGC curriculum and other programmatic resources, Program evaluation, and Up to a $26,000 stipend to cover in school program implementation costs across three school years.

PGC includes a year-long credit-bearing, leadership course for high school juniors and seniors that meets daily and is taught by 2 school faculty. The Leadership course is aligned to Common Core State Standards. Through this leadership course, the juniors and seniors become trained peer leaders and mentors who meet once per week during the school day with freshmen in outreach sessions designed to strengthen relationships and transform the culture of the high school to greater pride and school spirit, help freshmen feel connected to the school and peers, increase students’ motivation to complete high school and post-secondary education, increase student’s preparedness for college and work, and improve students’ communication skills with peers and adults.
  • To begin PGC, an assembly of a Stakeholder Team of administrators, faculty, parents, and community members receive training, tools, and resources necessary to implement and sustain PGC effectively year after year
  • Carefully selected faculty members participate in an 11-day intensive train the trainer course over 1 ½ year period to learn how to run the program and teach the daily leadership course.
  • As part of their regular schedule, the selected diverse group of juniors and seniors are trained in the daily leadership development class to become peer leaders and serve as role models, mentors, and discussion leaders for freshmen.
  • The peer leaders work in pairs to co-lead groups of 10-15 freshmen in outreach sessions. These sessions are engaging, hands-on activities and simulations that enable the freshmen to practice social, academic, and emotional skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, collaboration, decision making, goal setting and time management.
  • During the second semester, freshmen and peer leaders utilize skills learned to plan and execute a community service project.
  • PGC includes a parent involvement component in which the peer leaders organize, plan and facilitate Family Night events for freshmen and their parents. The goal of the family nights are to engage parents in hands-on activities and discussion related to improving parent-student communication, exploring family influence and attitudes on education, involvement and celebrating accomplishments.
  • A curriculum is provided for the peer leaders to use with their small group outreach sessions with freshmen.
  • A curriculum is provided to the faculty members who teach the peer leadership class.
  • Beginning in year 2, 10th-grade students who participated in PGC-HS as freshmen the previous year receive 4 booster sessions throughout the year led by the junior/senior peer leaders. These booster sessions focus on engaging students in goal setting and achieving the goals.
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