Haylie “Shay” Riley is an Apalachee High School junior making great strides toward a successful future after a rocky start to her high school career. Thanks to hard work and dedication to her vision of who she wants to become, Shay has made a remarkable turnaround. She has high marks in all her classes and rarely misses school. This is all because of a different approach to school and a supportive network at Apalachee.
Shay shared she is working to be “a different me” and has promised herself she will “continue to strive to be better than anyone would have ever imagined.” She is living up to that promise. From where she was this time last year to where she is now, it is apparent she is dedicated to improving herself. Shay says, “Academically, physically, mentally -- everything grows with the new me."
Shay has a strong network of support at the school. The administrative team led by Jennifer Martin has worked to create the right conditions for Shay's success. They provided guidance and direction last year when she was not making the right decisions and continue to guide her now as she makes great decisions. Laura Etheridge, the School Social Worker, has also served as a compassionate advocate for Shay. Ms. Etheridge has been steadfast in making sure Shay has the support she needs and checks in with her frequently.
Shay’s teachers are also great supporters. They push her to improve and to develop the skills she needs to meet her goals. Her marketing teacher, Ms. Sheena Twilley, says, “I am so proud to be one of Shay's teachers. Shay always strives for nothing but the best and continues to work hard. I met Shay last school year, and she was a completely different student than the student she is today. Shay takes pride in her schoolwork and encourages others around her to be the best person they can be. She is truly a joy to have in class!”
Andy Dean, the Graduation Specialist at Apalachee, has also worked with Shay on her path to success. He helped create a plan for her to graduate with her class and to gain industry certification in early childhood education through dual enrollment at Lanier Technical College. Shay has expressed interest in becoming either a child psychologist or a school counselor, and the courses at Lanier Tech will create a path towards either of those careers. Mr. Dean checks in with her weekly to monitor progress and to encourage her to continue working to achieve her goals. He says, “Every time I check in with her, it amazes me and makes me so proud to see the person she has become. She is driven and is working so hard to make herself better.”
We are proud of Shay and her journey on the “Grad Track.” A Grad Track student has either failed one or more academic classes and/or is behind in credits needed for graduation with their cohort class. Graduation Specialists at all three Barrow County School System (BCSS) high schools support students who meet these qualifications.