Local program helps keep teen moms in school

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Panama City-- Most teen mothers don't graduate high school. National statistics show far fewer go on to earn a college degree before age 30, about 2%.

Bay District School officials are trying to help those young mothers get an education and provide for their children.

"I transferred to this school in November of the first year it was here because I was pregnant and it was just too hard to go to school and when you're here it's like you're accepted because other pregnant teens are here, like you're not alone," said Samantha Skinner, a teen mom.

17-year-old high school senior Samantha Skinner is mom to 7 month old Sierra. When Skinner found out she was pregnant her junior year, she knew the odds were against her. The teen parenting program at Rosenwald High School has given her a second chance.

"If it wasn't for this program at Rosenwald I would have dropped out. I wouldn't have gotten an education," said Skinner.

Expectant students enroll during their pregnancy and take a parenting class during their last trimester.

"I've never changed a diaper before or ever fed a baby or anything so they helped with all that," said Skinner.

Then when the baby's born, the mother can bring her child to school every day for a paraprofessional to watch.

"You're more comfortable because your baby is here with you and not you know somewhere else, you know I would of dropped out and now I graduate early because I decided to stay and come to this program. It's perfect," said Skinner.

"We want to say that there are no excuses for you not to get a high school diploma," said Principal of Rosenwald High, Anita Dillard.

While some teens may look at having a baby as a stumble, Dillard tries to remind them it's not a fall.

"I tell my girls all the time that the best thing that you can give your child is an educated mother. A mother with a high school diploma. A mother that's not a drop out," said Dillard.

Samantha is on-track to complete here high school classes at the end of the semester. She's already enrolled at Gulf Coast Community College in January. She wants to be a surgical technician.

Rosenwald's top 5 female 2010 graduates, including the class valedictorian, were all teen mothers. There are 16 young, expectant women currently enrolled in the teen parenting program.

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