Thanks to these partners for their continued involvement in our community and education.
Dropouts go back for diplomasBy Sean Thomas
Two high school dropouts who want to set a good example for their children will take an important step next week.
Jesse Diaz and his wife, Liz Mireles, decided to go back to high school after dropping out in the 1990s. Diaz has two jobs, and Mireles works and does most of the raising for their three children, but they pledged to make education a priority.
They will graduate this month from the Flex program offered at Palo Duro High School.
"There is nothing else like a diploma; that is why we decided to go back and finish," said Mireles, who obtained a GED in 2001. "Back then, we were young and not mature. We didn't realize how important it is. Now that you have kids, you realize it is important and that it is why we chose to go back."
Mireles, 29, was a teen mother her senior year and did not graduate because of a poor attendance record. Diaz, 32, dropped out his senior year in 1994 after getting into fights and hanging out with "the wrong crowd."
They've spent afternoons and evenings plugging away at course work at their own pace. Diaz finished 17 classes from September to May. They juggled the schedule of children, after-school activities and work to earn their diplomas.
"It was pretty intense at first," said Diaz, owner of Anderson Auto Sales. "The stuff these kids have to know these days is far from what we had to know when I was going to school."
Flex coordinator Deb Nance, who has run the program since 2000, said it's designed to give a second opportunity to dropouts.
"They both came in with at least more than 15 classes to complete," Nance said. "Through dedication and hard work, they've been able to accomplish that and be able to graduate.
"It's not a miracle program. They will work for their grade. They set their minds to do it and supported each other."
The program has also inspired the couple to go into teaching.
Diaz is interested in becoming a substitute teacher. Mireles plans on attending Amarillo College in the fall and working toward becoming a counselor or teacher.
"I want to just try to inspire other kids to go back and stay in school," she said.
Editor's note: Beating the Odds is a series published in the Amarillo Globe-News from May 10-24 designed to tell the stories of all kinds of students who are graduating despite the challenges they've faced. It is part of Celebrate Education, a program designed to bring awareness to the need of educational attainment in the Texas Panhandle. For previous stories, visit www.celebrateeducation.org.
Copyright 2008 Amarillo Globe-News :: Amarillo.com