In an ongoing effort to allow for success for all students, Marietta City Schools recognized the pressing need for new voices in local and national dialogues concerning school reform. These new voices are the voices of the young people in our public schools—students succeeding, students struggling academically and/or emotionally, and students who are falling through the cracks. In an attempt to better understand “what’s working and what could be better” at their schools, the Marietta City School District launched a campaign to gather the voice and ideas of their students. As a result of the information gathered, the students of Marietta High School worked in collaboration with school administration to design and create the Graduate Marietta Student Success Center which opened on October 22, 2015.
During the two year research and planning phase, thousands of surveys and interviews were conducted with Marietta City School students, parents, and staff. As a result of this research, students identified a variety of conditions as significant barriers to their achievement and ultimate graduation. Students also identified academic challenges and truancy as barriers to graduation, but in general, students referenced academic problems as by-products of the real-world issues that got in the way of their academic achievement.
In addition to the research identifying the primary six barriers to learning and graduation, research was also conducted on student motivation and resiliency. This part of the research and planning phase included book studies, visits to other schools, and hundreds of hours speaking with the district’s students, families, staff, and stakeholders. Marietta City Schools came to the conclusion that academic initiatives alone – practices such as tutoring, credit recovery, on-line learning, flexible scheduling, dual enrollment, extended day, extended year, and more – would never allow us to reach our goals of academic and life success for all students. Our research yielded a need to address our identified barriers through a framework of resiliency. In short, how could we minimize the negative impact of these identified barriers while also positively impacting each student’s resiliency to address these barriers?
Marietta City Schools (MCS) began the initiative that became the Graduate Marietta Student Success Center by publicly recognizing our student identified obstacles to academics as family and community challenges that must be collaboratively addressed. District and school staff worked with our students and community stakeholders to find a way to strengthen the interpersonal relationships within our school, create a referral and response system to ensure the provision of interventions in a timely manner, to provide high quality college and career counseling, and to supplement our extensive instructional efforts by becoming a “wrap-around" school. In short, the Marietta City School district determined we must offer every student, every means of support by providing and coordinating essential services requested by our students.
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Dr. Roberts brings extensive experience to leveraging academic and non-academic supports to positively impact student success. She has served the students of Marietta for 22 years in a variety of capacities, including that of teacher, assistant principal, Administrator of Curriculum, and Administrator of Operations. Additional roles Dr. Roberts has held within the Marietta community include Executive Director of a local non-profit and extensive work with at-risk youth. Dr. Roberts completed her bachelor’s degree in political science at Duquesne University, her master’s degree in instructional studies at Duquesne University, and has recently completed her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi.
The University of Southern Mississippi
Leigh Colburn is a lifelong resident of Cobb County who has worked as a career educator. For the last ten years, Mrs. Colburn has proudly served as the principal of Marietta High School and from 2015 through 2017 served as the Director of the Graduate Marietta Student Success Center. In addition to several professional committees, Ms. Colburn is an active community leader who currently serves with organizations such as the Marietta Mentoring for Leadership organization, the Davis Direction Foundation, and the YWCA. Ms. Colburn is a 2006 Leadership Cobb graduate and a 2014 member of the Cobb Chamber's Honorary Commanders organization. Ms. Colburn works actively with the Marietta Board of Education, the Marietta City Council, and Marietta's public safety departments and community groups to improve the quality of life for Marietta's teens. Ms. Colburn lives in historic Marietta with her husband, Doug, and she has raised two sons who attended Marietta High School. Her oldest son, John, is currently attending seminary at Samford University and her younger son, Phillip, is serving proudly as a member of the United States Army.
Kennesaw State University
The University of Mississippi
The University of Alabama
Marietta Citizen of the Year
Marietta City Schools Employee of the Year
NorthWest Georgia's Woman of the Year
One of Cobb County's Top Ten "Power Women"
Distinguished Alumnus of Marietta High School
Creating Community Award