From humble beginnings as an effort to address Forsyth County’s ever-growing public high school dropout rate, to the area’s only alternative educational option that targets at-risk students, the Winston-Salem Street School has come a long way in 20 years. In 2004, Founder David Morgan recognized that Forsyth County had a serious problem and felt that an alternative high school, with smaller class sizes and an emphasis on individualized attention for students who needed a second chance, might be able to make a difference. Now, 20 years and 310 graduates later, he was right, and the Street School is serving more students than ever before.
For those unfamiliar with the program, the Street School is a private, tuition-free high school that is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Most students are referred to the program by the public school system, even though the Street School is not state-funded like public schools. For operating resources, the program depends on the generosity of individual donors, businesses, the faith community and private foundations. Volunteers also play a key role in the success of the school providing lunch, tutoring services and mentoring to students who need extra support.
Nearly 80% of Street School students live at or below the county’s poverty level, most come from a single-parent home and the majority work part-time jobs to help make ends meet. Add in additional challenges like mental health issues, lack of transportation and little-to-no foundation or accountability in their personal lives, and you have a young person who is forced to be resilient or not succeed. Whether it is a high school student or individual in the Street School’s adult online program, the obstacles and barriers are real. But, that is where the Street School steps in.
The program is designed to meet students where they are in their journeys. Some make the decision to come to the Street School straight from the 8th grade, others might just need a different environment to complete three or four credits and a number of young adults come back to finish what they once started. The goal and mission for the Street School is simple…provide students with the necessary tools and support to succeed in the classroom and, ultimately, in life. The road to get there looks different for everyone. Earning an accredited diploma at the Street School is the first step, but making sure each student has a plan in place for life after high school, whether it is to continue their education, better their potential in the workforce or make the decision to serve their country in the military, is the piece that completes the puzzle.
To learn more about the Winston-Salem Street School, see how you can support or become involved, or just discover some amazing stories of transformation in our community, visit www.wsstreetschool.org .