2016 Offers a Fresh Start for Ombudsman Chicago Graduates

Date: March 17, 2016

Written by Dane Ishat

Just weeks into 2016, the year has already been rewarding for Ronnesha Whitfield, Isiah Spann and Inocencio Lorenzo and more than 44 Ombudsman Chicago students who have earned their Chicago Public Schools high school diploma.

“We are extremely pleased with our graduates and all that they’ve achieved,” said Dr. Chaun Johnson, senior principal, O

Ombudsman West student, Ronnesha Whitfield, during her last week at school at Ombudsman’s West Side campus, 2401 W. Congress Pkwy .

Ombudsman West student, Ronnesha Whitfield, during her last week at school at Ombudsman’s West Side campus, 2401 W. Congress Pkwy .

mbudsman Chicago. “For our students, earning a high school diploma is a major milestone and a big step toward future life success.”

A Chicago Public Schools Options School Program, Ombudsman Chicago opened its doors in August 2013. With three convenient locations on the Northwest, West and South Sides, Ombudsman is working with students throughout the city to provide a second chance at achieving success in the classroom and in life after high school.
Students at Ombudsman often face a bitter struggle along the path to success, which makes receiving a CPS diploma an even sweeter accomplishment. Twenty-year-old West Side native Ronnesha Whitfield began having behavioral problems after she started spending time with a different group of friends. After dropping out twice, Ronnesha felt embarrassed that her peers had moved on and completed high school. She wanted to give up for good, but after talking with her mother about getting back on track, Ronnesha enrolled at Ombudsman. Now she credits the support received from Ombudsman’s faculty and staff as the reason she was able to finally overcome some of life’s biggest challenges.
“My teachers refused to let me give up again,” said Whitfield. “Because of Ombudsman, I know my worth and I try to push and motivate others so that we can make it out together.”
 The assistance Whitfield received from her teachers extends far beyond the classroom.  Faculty and staff at Ombudsman foster genuine relationships with students and work with them to create resumes, apply for jobs and prepare for job interviews.
“I am so thankful for my counselor at Ombudsman, Ms. Kackley,” said Whitfield. “She really helped me work on my resume and cover letter, and as a result, I got the job I applied for!”
Ombudsman West student, Isiah Spann, during his last week at school at Ombudsman’s West Side campus, 2401 W. Congress Pkwy.

Ombudsman West student, Isiah Spann, during his last week at school at Ombudsman’s West Side campus, 2401 W. Congress Pkwy.

After graduation, Ronnesha plans to attend Northern Illinois University or Southern Illinois University and become an Information Technology Software Engineer.

Ronnesha and fellow classmate, Isiah Spann, help motivate each other on a daily basis. Spann, an 18-year-old West Side native, is no stranger to the trials and tribulations many Chicago youth encounter.

“I wasn’t focused on school because of bad influences and street life,” said Spann. “I knew that if I remained at the high school I was at before, I would just become another statistic.”

After becoming a father at age 14, Isiah knew it was imperative to complete his education and serve as a positive role model to his child.

“After coming to Ombudsman, I was able to find a support system to lean on – we have a teen father’s mentoring group every week where we share what we are going through and take advice from one another.”
Isiah plans to attend DePaul University in the fall to study business.

Much like Isiah, the promise of fatherhood drove 18-year-old Inocencio Lorenzo to get serious about his education. Inocencio’s girlfriend is seven months pregnant, and he knows that that an education is the right path to provide a better life for himself and his family.

For Inocencio, school was not a safe or welcoming environment. He started missing school, and his grades began to suffer. Inocencio realized that his lack of credits would mean another full year of school for him to catch up to his peers, and he eventually gave up and dropped out.

Ombudsman North West student, Inocencio Lorenzo, during his last week at school at Ombudsman’s North West campus, 500 N. Harlem Ave.

Ombudsman North West student, Inocencio Lorenzo, during his last week at school at Ombudsman’s North West campus, 500 N. Harlem Ave.

He then learned about Ombudsman’s credit recovery program and how, with hard work, he still had the chance to graduate with his class. Inconencio recommitted to earning his diploma and enrolled in Ombudsman.

“I stopped going to school because there were a lot of gangs, and you had to be careful about what you wore and even where you walked inside the school building – Ombudsman is different,” said Lorenzo. “At Ombudsman, coming to school is a positive experience. The teachers genuinely care about you, and they help you to get caught up quickly.”

Lorenzo has his sights set on joining the military after he graduates.

Ombudsman will celebrate these graduates and others during mid-year graduation ceremonies held at each of its three Chicago locations in February. Students who have earned their diploma during the winter semester will be invited to participate in the school’s expanded graduation ceremony in June 2016.

Source: TrueStar

Categories: Alternative Education, Center News, Dropout Prevention and Recovery, News & Information, Ombudsman News
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