Kevin Williams, 20, worked on his English homework on a recent cloudy afternoon at Coast Collaborative on Everett Street.
This time last year, Williams admits he most likely wouldn’t have been in class.
“I would probably be out on the streets doing stuff I shouldn’t be,” Williams said.
Revere public schools recently joined with Ombudsman Educational Services to create Coast Collaborative in an effort to lower the dropout rate in Revere, which is roughly 9 percent, School Superintendent Paul Dakin said.
“We were looking for a program to help us arrest our dropout rate and draw back some of the kids we might have lost,” he said.
The center offers an alternative learning environment for students in grades 9 through 12 who are at risk of dropping out, have been expelled or who have dropped out and wish to return to earn their diploma. It is a partner of Seacoast, Revere’s alternative high school.
Williams went back and forth between Revere High School and Seacoast before ultimately getting kicked out.
“Honestly, when I was 16 or 17, I was a punk,” Williams said. “I went to school for my friends and not my education.”
However, Williams soon realized he would need a high school diploma if he wanted to do anything in life. That’s when he decided to attend Coast Collaborative, an extension of Ombudsman and Revere High School. “Ombudsman offers flexible hours with the same educational quality to those who are at risk of dropping out,” Dakin said.
Ombudsman Educational Services is a division of Educational Services of America (ESA), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 alternative and special education schools and programs.
Based in Nashville, Tenn., ESA partners with 260 public school districts in 22 states and the District of Columbia to operate more than 170 schools and programs. ESA provides highly personalized academic and behavioral services to 12,000 students each year though its Ombudsman divisions.
Coast Collaborative is Revere’s center for Ombudsman’s Educational Services.
“It is for students who weren’t doing as well as they could,” Center Director Ria Ferich added.
Students enrolled attend one of two four-hour sessions Monday through Friday. Class size is smaller than traditional high school and students receive more personal one-on-one attention from teachers than they would in a traditional setting.
There are currently 19 students in the program.
“Seacoast was a little rowdy,” Williams said. “It is a lot more relaxed here.”
It’s the flexible schedule that many credit for the program’s success. “A lot of these kids have adult responsibilities and the traditional school day wasn’t working for them,” Ferich said. “Some may be taking care of a family member or even a child. This allows them not to give up school.”
Eighteen-year-old Page Cinelli enrolled because she was attracted to the flexible schedule Coast Collaborative offered.
The senior had dropped out of Revere High School.
“I was just sick of it,” Cinelli said.
But Cinelli likes the alternative school.
“I get to work at my own pace and can do my own thing,” she said.
Williams agreed. “I can work (at) the pace I want to work,” Williams said. “There is no bell ringing to tell me to go to my next class. I just sit here and do my work.”
Ombudsman’s services are used throughout the country, however, this is the first time they have joined forces with a high school in Massachusetts.
“We are very excited about it,” Dakin said. “Especially if it helps out our dropout rate.”
Ombudsman and Revere public schools officials talked about developing a center for years. “When we got the approval this March… we knew we wanted to make this a reality,” Operations Manager William Listanski said.
It seems to be working for Williams and Cinelli.
“It taught me responsibility,” Williams said. “To wake up every day and come to school.”
Cinelli graduates this year and plans on going to college in the fall.
“Coming here taught me how important it is to get a diploma,” Cinelli said.