SMCM, SMCPS Sign Agreement to Assist Local Students at Risk of Not Graduating - Southern Maryland Headline News

SMCM, SMCPS Sign Agreement to Assist Local Students at Risk of Not Graduating


Program Strives to Make Students College-bound

Superintendent, Dr. Michael J. Martirano, signs a memorandum of understanding between SMCPS and St. Mary’s College of Maryland at a ceremony with Dr. Jane Margaret O’Brien (left), president of SMCM, and two Fairlead Academy students, Shawn Briscoe of Lexington Park (far left), and Larissa Briscoe (far right) of Park Hall. The memorandum establishes a commitment of the college’s resources and facilities to Fairlead Academy students and alumni in coming years. (Submitted photo)
Superintendent, Dr. Michael J. Martirano, signs a memorandum of understanding between SMCPS and St. Mary’s College of Maryland at a ceremony with Dr. Jane Margaret O’Brien (left), president of SMCM, and two Fairlead Academy students, Shawn Briscoe of Lexington Park (far left), and Larissa Briscoe (far right) of Park Hall. The memorandum establishes a commitment of the college’s resources and facilities to Fairlead Academy students and alumni in coming years. (Submitted photo)

ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. (June 6, 2009) — During the awards ceremony for Fairlead Academy’s first-ever cohort of students on Friday, June 5, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) and St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) signed a memorandum of understanding that states their commitment to share resources and facilities to support the academy’s students and alumni. Fairlead Academy is a year-long program designed to help ninth-grade students at risk of not graduating from high school. The memorandum was signed by SMCPS’s superintendent, Dr. Michael Martirano, and SMCM president, Dr. Jane Margaret O’Brien.

“We are absolutely delighted to have this partnership with St. Mary’s for years to come,” said Martirano. According to the memorandum, SMCM will provide Fairlead graduates with student tutors and mentors and will coordinate fall and spring semester bus trips to give students a sense of what college is like and how to be prepared academically for success in college. The college is also exploring opportunities to underwrite a scholarship fund for Fairlead high school graduates, and it will continue to host the program’s two-day culminating experience on the college campus in coming years.

Fairlead Academy was established in 2008. Students are provided with state-of-the-art electronic educational equipment, a 13:1 student-teacher ratio, and—along with their ninth grade curriculum—are taught the skills to become successful citizens and make their dreams become reality.

Upon completion of the program, students re-enter comprehensive high schools in St. Mary’s County, but continue to have access to student tutors and academic services provided by SMCM. “We look forward to helping you reach your academic goals for the next three years, and I hope some of you will consider coming to St. Mary’s for your college education,” O’Brien told Fairlead students at the ceremony, which was held in St. Mary’s Hall on the college campus.

In his address to the students, Martirano noted that this year’s cohort of Fairlead students, the first to complete the year-long program, demonstrated dramatic academic improvements. Their average attendance rate increased from 85% to 95%; average grade point average rose from 1.82 to 2.43 on a 4-point scale; and 96% of students participated in school-sponsored extracurricular activities, up from only 8% last year. Every single student in the program is being promoted to the 10th grade.

The program culminated in a two-day visit to SMCM, where they attended classes and presentations by the college’s Admissions staff. They also took advantage of the college’s facilities, including the Athletics and Recreation Center’s rock climbing wall and pool and the riverfront, and they spent a night in one of the college’s dorms.

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