ESU 13 Migrant Education News

Out of School Youth Special Edition

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Success Story - Gordon Youth completes High School Diploma

Tucker Keiser is now a proud high school graduate. This is the story of how Gordon High School Staff, Migrant Education Recruiter Rhonda Case, the local community, and Tucker's mother worked together to make the dream a reality. Gordon High School Counselor, Sherry Reztlaff referred Tucker to Rhonda Case, our Migrant Education Recruiter for the northern region, as a youth in need of support. He had dropped out of high school in the second semester of his senior year and was working calving out cows in Gordon. Lori Ligget, the principal of Gordon High School, was willing to work with him to let him complete his final semester course work at home. The school had loaned him books and assignments, but working full time and completing school are not always easy to accomplish. Rhonda met Tucker, and since he had moved in order to obtain agricultural work, she was able to sign him up for the Migrant Education Program. When his certificate of eligibility had been approved by the Nebraska Department of Education last April, Rhonda immediately went to visit Tucker to see how she could help him complete that diploma. However, when she arrived, she was told by the new resident of the home that Tucker had moved “somewhere down south of Harrison.” He had left his books and assignments behind. Rhonda obtained the materials and began to search for Tucker. Anyone familiar with Sioux County knows that looking for a student south of Harrison is a tall task. It is a 2,067 square mile grassland laced with gravel roads and cattle, but no towns south of Harrison. Fortunately, it also has a small population (1,311 in the entire county). Rhonda reached out to the county Extension agent, who gave her a name of a farmer who hired temporary workers. Tucker did not work for him, but that farmer referred him to another farmer, and so the story went until someone told her that she could leave the books at the veterinarian’s office because he knew Tucker. So Rhonda went to visit Dr. Anders. The vet’s son said, “I know Tucker. I’ll get the books to him.” Throughout this time, Rhonda had been calling and texting Tucker. The next time Rhonda called, he had the books. She set up a visit, but when she went out to the farm, Tucker had moved again. The farmer said he had moved back to Gordon. A personal friend of Rhonda’s in Gordon helped her find where Tucker lived. After that, Tucker’s Mom joined Rhonda in her efforts to encourage him to finish his final high school semester work. Rhonda checked in with him 3 times a month with the same questions, “How’s work going? How is school going?” As time progressed and work took the front seat in Tucker’s life, it became apparent that it would be very difficult for Tucker to finish by the May 22nd deadline for graduation. Rhonda and Mrs. Liggett met to re-evaluate Tucker’s plan. Mrs. Liggett graciously moved the deadline for completing his high school work until he turned 22, rather than by the May graduation deadline. The school also approved granting some credit for the work he was doing with his employer. Mrs. Liggett ordered a high school diploma for Tucker, and told Rhonda to let him know that it was there waiting for him when he finished his work. Rhonda told him and added “I know you can do it before you turn 22.” Tucker was amazed. He asked if the diploma was signed. Rhonda said, “Yes, all you have to do is get the work done.” Little by little over the summer and fall, Tucker did the work on his own with the support of his Mom. Rhonda continued calling every 10 days or so. Tucker was very good about returning calls and texts, and continued to work on his assignments as he had time. Rhonda also kept in contact with Tucker’s mom. She encouraged her, “We’ve got to have a celebration for him when he finishes.” In October, Mrs. Liggett reported that all of Tucker’s required work was completed, and that he had earned the high school diploma that had been waiting for him. Tucker’s next step is to meet with Proteus, an organization that helps agricultural workers with post-secondary education. Tucker has shown the initiative to finish his high school work on his own and is ready for the next step. As they discussed Tucker’s big milestone, Tucker told Rhonda, “You had confidence in me when I didn’t.” Rhonda reflected, “I feel like the most I did was run after you and say ‘Hey! You forgot your books!’” Tucker replied, ““I appreciate all the stuff you’re doing for me even though I don’t really show it, but I do.” Sometimes, a little confidence and encouragement, combined with the support of parents, school, and community can go a long way. Congratulations, Tucker, and Thank you Rhonda, Mrs. Liggett, and Mrs. Retzlaff, for believing in Tucker!

Do you want to graduate, get a GED, or pursue career training? Call us!

Kiowa Rogers, MEP Director (308) 635-3696 - office or (308) 631-5476 cell

Rhonda Case, MEP Recruiter / Liaison - Chadron & Northwest Nebraska (308) 641-5987

Rosie Cobos, MEP Recruiter / Liaison - Scottsbluff & Southwest Nebraska (308) 641-8442

Jaymie Hilliard, MEP Recuiter / Liaison - North Platte & Central Nebraska (308) 641-3883

ESU 13 Migrant Education Program

The ESU 13 Migrant Education Program is a Title 1, Part C program under the Nebraska Department of Education. The mission of the Migrant Education Program is to ensure that migrant children fully benefit from the same free public education provided to other children. To achieve this, the MEP supports educational programs for migrant children to help reduce the educational disruptions and other problems that result from repeated moves.