L.I.F.E. PLAN: CHHS girls excel in mentorship program

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019

“Nobody cares about me at this school anyway. I’m too far behind. I’m going to be a dropout.”

Those words were said by a female Charles Henderson High School student to Assistant Principal Kristina Anderson in her first week at the school in 2017.

“The young lady who made this statement was considered an ‘at-risk’ student with several obstacles in her way,’ Anderson said. “Last year, with the assistance of L.I.F.E,  she, graduated with a workforce credential certified by the state of Alabama and was hired before graduating high school with a job offer from one of the leading production companies in Troy.”

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L.I.F.E. is the female mentoring program that Anderson developed and implemented at CHHS upon her hire to mentor young women and help them reach goals they might not otherwise even consider. L.I.F.E. stands for leadership, image, finance and etiquette, teaching female students about all of these facets and more through the mentoring group.

“It is my focus to generate students who upon graduation, will be ready to contribute to society actively,” Anderson said. “The reason for the program was to help empower young ladies ages 15-18 to make a positive change in their lives and the lives of others. Since 2017, each female participant has attended bi-weekly seminars and counseling sessions, work-related seminars, field trips, etiquette seminars, and all-female conferences geared towards our four-point programmatic design.”

¬Senor Jordan Johnson has been in the program since it began and said the group is just as beneficial in personal life as it is in preparing for academic and professional goals.

“It has helped me meet new people and have a lot more interactions with other women and issues in their lives,” Johnson said. “They recently helped me with a relationship issue I was having and really helped me through that.”

To date, over 200 CHHS female students have participated in the L.I.F.E. program and of that number, 100 percent of seniors in the program have graduated from high school with a post-graduate “Life Plan.” Each student’s “Life Plan” is specifically tailored to the student’s post-graduate interest. So far, 92 percent of L.I.F.E. members attend a collegiate institution, 6 percent of students enlist in the military, and the remaining 2 percent of students enter the workforce with a secured position and certified workforce credential.

“In just two years, the overall the success rate of the L.I.F.E. female mentoring group has altered the trajectory of over 35 percent of the total student population at Charles Henderson High School, which will, in turn, produce productive members of society who be prepared upon graduation to contribute to the student population at a collegiate institution or workforce within the Troy community,” Anderson said.

Junior Haylee Carter said the information on the college process and entering the workforce is a major help to her and the other members.

“The college students give us a lot of advice about college life,” Carter said.

Anderson said the third year of the program will bring it to new heights.

“We have established a working relationship with Troy University to implement components of L.I.F.E. at the collegiate level,” Anderson said. “Just this year, Chancellor Hawkins personally made a very generous donation to ensure that the program continues to grow and provide opportunities for our female students. In years previous, student participant items, trips, hygiene products, clothing, school fees, and instructional resources for the program were purchased by solicited donations from K&W Plastics, County Commissioner, Troy Bank & Trust, or by me personally.”¬¬

Sophomore Taylor Saylor is just beginning her time with the group and said it has been great having the support of the older girls.

“When I first got to high school, I didn’t know anything about what to do,” Saylor said. “These older girls have welcomed me and showed me around, they set examples that helps me keep my head up.”

Junior Jaylan Rouse said the program has broadened her horizons and allowed her to become involved in other programs as well.

“I was one of only three students from CHHS to be selected as a Pike County Junior Ambassador through the Chamber of Commerce,” Rouse said. “I would not have done that without the LIFE program.”

Senior Nyla Shipman said she enjoy her mentorship role within the group.

“Being in this group means I can help make a difference to younger people and help them get through high school,” Shipman said. “We want to be prepared for the real world when we step out there.”

Junior Kaylan Rouse said the group has helped her make relationships she wouldn’t otherwise have.

“I thought I was going to come here and be antisocial,” Rouse said. “But with all the mentors that come from different places, they taught a lot about school relationships, college – anything a girl goes through. They’re like big sisters. It’s made a big difference in my life and given me something to look forward to.”