Loren Metts

No one stays in the same place for their entire lives anymore. But some students find getting an education especially difficult because of their mobile lifestyle.

And no one knows this better than Loren Metts who works for the Madison County School System coordinating the Migrant Education Program and the McKinney-Vento Program. Both programs exist solely to assist students who have issues that other students never experience. Metts spoke Friday to the Rotary Club of Madison County.

The Migrant Education Program (Title I, Part C) began in 1966 and provides support to children of migrant workers. These children have parents who are working in migratory agriculture positions such as poultry, dairy, fruit picking or fishing. These families have moved across school district lines for economic necessities within the preceding 36 months. In 2011-2012, Madison County identified students, and by 2014, the number peaked at 80. This year, 36 are going to Madison County schools where they get help with free tutoring, free school supplies upon request, and educationally-related medical assistance such as immunizations and glasses.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program, named after U.S. politicians Stewart McKinney and Bruce Vento, was authorized in 1987. This program is also a Title IX program. Under these guidelines, a homeless student is one who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residency. Last year, Madison County schools served 198 homeless students. Eight percent were living in shelters, motels or camping trailers. Seventeen percent were unaccompanied by a legal guardian, and some were living in storage shelters behind regular homes. The services these students receive are immediate school enrollment, free school meals, medical assistance, some free school supplies and academic support. For these students, school becomes home. Madison County (both schools, community and churches) goes a step further and gives the seniors a secret graduation party with graduation gifts. Last year, 17 students graduated from Madison County High having worked hard to defy the odds.

Anyone interested in becoming part of this initiative can call Loren Metts at the school system central office.

Ellen Cowne provides news from the Rotary Club of Madison County.

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