Inspiration +aspiration =motivation: helping kids get back on track to graduate.

Author:Anderson, Tom

Who remembers high school and all of the classes you endured? You likely maneuvered through a diverse curriculum and swath of subjects. Oh, so many subjects. Not to mention social interaction and the emotional ebb and flow of peer connectivity. Toss in the computer age and the growth of social media, and high school becomes a whirlwind of data, burgeoning intellect, and social maturation, all swirling through a torrent of adolescence.

Whether or not you enjoyed your math and science classes, you'll likely find that, you've benefited from what you learned during those hours of lessons. From secretary and store cashier to bank teller, nurse, and engineer, an understanding of math is vital to professional success. Then there are basic scientific tenets that complement myriad jobs and personal efforts and may not even be recognized for their utility. We need science for everything from weather interpretation (What's the temperature today?) to vehicle repair and measuring temperatures for cooking and baking. The aviation, medical, engineering, and construction trades, among others, are all dependent upon science.

Nearly all subjects in our secondary education curriculum have practical uses, which is why education and graduation are critical steps toward securing gainful employment. All children should go to school and learn. This is a global directive. The expectation is even enshrined in our state's constitution. Yet completing a basic education (K-12) is not just about honoring family, intellectual growth, and the pride of accomplishments. It's also tangible. It's about future employment, income, and the ability to provide for one's self and family. The community in which a gainfully employed citizen works is also rewarded, making education integral to business.

Odds are if you're reading this article you've at least graduated from high school and can appreciate the pleasant and painful gauntlet of 9th through 12th grades. Do you remember the ultimate sense of inspiration that accompanied your achievement? It's a remarkably empowering feeling to graduate.

But what if you don't graduate? What if you lack the tools or time to finish high school, earn a diploma, and prepare for the job market? Where are the cheers, praise, and coveted career opportunities for those who drop out of high school?

You can guess the answer. They simply aren't there.

Enter Aspire

AT&T is a household name when it comes to telephony and phone service. Alaskans depend on AT&T's cell service across the state. With more than 500 employees in Alaska, and operation and retail centers statewide, the company thrives on community engagement.

One community program that has made national news, and appears to be making a remarkable difference in graduation rates is the Aspire Grant. Billed as an education initiative, the grant targets the mobilization of learning, career skill development, networking through educator mentorship, and direct academic support to earn a diploma.

In the fall...

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