Path to A Future

Updated: Oct 11

As of 2021, Allentown School District reported only a 72% graduation rate. When broken down, that means approximately 284 out of 1013 senior students do not earn their high school diplomas. The reasons why students leave school vary, but one thing is sure: life is challenging without a high school degree.


Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania believes every student deserves a chance to graduate and partnered with Allentown School District in 2015 to begin the Allentown ReEngagement Center (AREC). For the last six years, the program has connected out-of-school 16- to 24-years-olds to flexible paths toward their high school diploma or GED.


To give students the assistance they need, Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania first learns what may have caused the dropout. After auditing transcripts and credits, the organization takes information such as age, special education needs, English language learner status, and work availability to determine which plan best fits the student. Options can include returning to a brick-and-mortar high school, attending a virtual learning environment, or focusing on earning a GED.


“Everyone has a different plan. Some students might be short just a credit or two of a degree and take a class at the ReEngagement Center. In contrast, others may need to take several virtual classes to get back on track,” said Wendy Seiffert, Associate Vice President of Operations at Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania. “With many options available to them, students can work at their own pace to achieve their goals.”


There are currently 18 students enrolled in classes through the ReEngagement Center, which has the ability to assist as many as 30 students at a time. A majority of students are fully employed, and the virtual pathway’s flexibility enables them to complete their assignments any time, day or night. Their only requirement is logging on once a day.


The ReEngagement Center also acts as a drop-in center for extra help. District teachers support academic assistance during regular school hours, and students can also get one-on-one support developing life skills including job searching. The speed at which a student earns their degree is completely self-mandated. It can be completed in less than six months or as long as two years based on an individual’s situation and motivation.


“So far, we have had over 200 students successfully re-engage with their high school and work toward their diploma or GED,” said Maria Esposito, Vice President of Advancement at Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania. “We are dedicated to sticking by these kids and helping them find success in the classroom and life.”


To learn more about the Allentown ReEngagement Center, click here. For more information about Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania, click here.


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