Education Spotlight: Comeback Charter School helps adults finish their high school education

Adults in Merced County who are looking to complete their high school diploma have some additional opportunities.

Video Transcript

- Meanwhile adults in Merced County who are looking to complete their high school diploma have some additional opportunities. In today's Education Spotlight sponsored by the Merced County Office of Education I spoke with the district superintendent about Comeback Charter School. So Dr. Tietjen, for those who don't know what is the Comeback Charter School?

DR. STEVE TIETJEN: So our comeback charter school here at Merced County Office of education is focused on students that didn't finish high school first time around. It's designed and targeted at a group of students that can't really attend adult school because of their work schedule and the other complications of adult life. And so the Comeback Charter School is a high school degree program focused on getting young adults and actually middle-aged adults a high school diploma so that they can break that glass ceiling that they hit when they look for employment and don't have a high school diploma. And we're excited because it's only about a three-year-old program, it's graduated about 150 students, and the stories that you hear from these adults about how it's changing their lives is really heartwarming.

- So what kind of accommodations do you guys have to help ease that burden that comes for a lot of people with just simply scheduling?

DR. STEVE TIETJEN: Well, the traditional adult school requires seat time, requires students to be in the seat from 8 to noon or from noon to 4. our comeback charter school is an independent study format. So they're meeting with a teacher, once a week and then a tutor as needed during hours that they have available. And so there's a lot more flexibility in the charter-school approach than there is in a traditional adult school that requires seat time.

- It Sounds like you know really each person's experience with Comeback Charter School is different. Is that fair to say?

DR. STEVE TIETJEN: That is truly fair to say. And the individuals that are coming to us are a wide range of folks from moms that got pregnant young and dropped out of high school to folks that are ex felons that got involved in the street gang in their high school years, were incarcerated, they've come out of prison, and they're looking for a way back into society. And they discover that they can get a minimum wage job but that means they can't get that high school diploma that they need to move up in life.

And any number of our students have finished their degree they've gone on to a professional certificate with one of our Empower programs connected to the Workforce Development Board here in Merced County. And they've got a truck driver's license. So they're getting a skill and they're working as a plumber.

Now, these are the sorts of success stories that are thrilling to me because not only are we giving these folks a chance at some real work that builds their self-esteem in their families view, but it also helps pay taxes. It gets people back into our economy and makes our community better for everyone. We have a high percentage of citizens in Merced County that haven't attained that high school diploma. So we really want to serve that group and make sure they have that diploma.