Ombudsman Operation Graduation 2010 Winners

Date: August 2, 2010

I am excited to announce the winners of Operation Graduation 2010 – and to recognize the Ombudsman operations managers, center directors and staff who helped students earn their high school diplomas this year.

Thank you for inspiring our graduates to reflect on what their diploma means to them, their future and their family. Each student essay reminded me of how important it is to provide an alternate route to graduation for our students – and how vital the roles of our operations managers, directors and teachers are to students’ success.

I’d also like to thank the students who submitted written essays or videos for sharing their personal stories. We received more than 100 essays and video submissions this year from graduates in nearly 20 centers: Limestone, Ala.; Forrest City, Ark.; Arizona Charter Schools; Buchanan, Calhoun, Cartersville, East Cobb, La Fayette and Waycross, Ga.; Crestwood, DeKalb, Downers Grove, Gurnee, Indian Head Park, Matteson, Niles, Potosi, Wauconda, Winnebago and Zion, Ill.; Holly Springs, Miss.; Forest Park, Ohio; and NW Accelerated and NW Transitions in Philadelphia.

Now, on to our winners! Click below to read their inspiring essays:

Grand Prize, iPad: Marilyn Serrano, Limestone, Ala.
Excerpt: “Having to take care of a newborn baby is a twenty-four hour job. I could not even think of school, and I eventually had to drop out. That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I could not do both things at one time. Once my baby was adjusted to a regular schedule and was sleeping most of the time, I found myself thinking about my future. What was I going to do? Where would I work without a diploma? How was I going to tell my daughter to stay in school when her mother had dropped out of high school?”

First Runner-Up, iPod Touch: Jessica Robinson, Indian Head Park, Ill.
Excerpt: “Going from being the only student in my class to a school where hundreds of other students walk the halls was definitely a challenging transition for me. Although my mother tried to support me as best she could it was not enough. My grades began to slip and soon I was failing. At this time my counselor and the assistant principle sat my mother and I down for a talk. They recommended a program called Ombudsman; they felt that I would very much benefit from it. They were right”

Second Runner-Up, FlipCam Ultra HD Slide: Samantha Johnson, La Fayette, Ga.
Excerpt: “I had fallen very far behind and I was beginning to feel depressed. I was going to do everything I could to get my diploma. That is when I heard about Ombudsman and my journey began. Coming to Ombudsman changed my life. Actually, I should say it had given my life back. All of the goals and dreams I had before and now become reality. I am graduating high school and going off to college in the fall. I have always wanted to become an elementary school teacher and now I will be able to achieve that dream.”  Samantha recorded a video essay as well. You can watch it here.

Third Runner-Up, FlipCam Ultra HD: Kristina Spegal, Forest Park, Ohio
Excerpt: “Other than being able to graduate with my class, Ombudsman gave me the opportunity to understand what I was learning. I wasn’t just regurgitating what was said in class, I really understood. The teachers gave me the extra one-on-one time I needed and it made a huge difference. Ombudsman showed me what it feels like to have teachers that really care about my education and me. That has to be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Essays from these students rounded out our top ten:

I encourage all educators to keep these graduates’ words top of mind during this new school year. They are truly inspiring!

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