Academic, career program helps teen parents succeed!
Renee Taylor, a Clackamas Sunrise Rotarian, is behind our long time involvement in PACE, It is one of our key programs we partner as a Rotary club with the North Clackamas School District.
About two decades ago, a pregnancy likely ended the education of a girl or boy in the North Clackamas School District.
That changed when Carolyn Jenkins and Ron Dexter created the Parent Academic Career Employment program (PACE) for the district in 1994.
In the past 20 years, more than 300 pregnant girls and fathers have been helped by the program to complete their high school education.
On Saturday, Sept. 20, there will be a 20-year celebration of the program from noon to 3:30 p.m., at the Sabin-Schellenberg North Campus, 14211 S.E. Johnson Road, for all of the current and former students and their families, plus current and former staff.
So far, said Renee Taylor, an instructional assistant for PACE and organizer of the event, more than 260 students have responded to invitations.
The original teens are now in their late 30s “and their babies are now 18 and 19,” Taylor said. “It gives us an opportunity to reconnect and bring our community back to PACE to keep it in the forefront and use it as a resource.”
Bringing back the former students, she said, will show current students that though they face a hard road with teen pregnancy, success can be achieved.
Former students commented on the PACE Facebook page about what PACE did for them.
“PACE gave me a second chance at an education, in a loving and judge-free environment. While I was working on my education, I never had to worry about my son because the staff at PACE is so much more than “staff;” they become your family. I was encouraged and supported every step of the way from the moment I first took the tour and was considering going to PACE,” wrote Shelby Henson.
“PACE is an amazing program. They welcomed me with open arms at a time when I felt isolated and alone. Knowing my daughter was in good hands right next door enabled me to be able to concentrate on my studies,” wrote Deon McManus. “The staff and teachers were always happy to see us, and being surrounded by other girls in similar situations provided a great support system. PACE isn’t just a program to help you finish school, it’s a family.”
Taylor echoed the family theme, pointing out that many of the students were turned away from their families due to the pregnancies, and the PACE staff became their surrogate families.
“Teen pregnancy is not what anyone wants to happen in their family, but it does,” Taylor said.
In addition to regular high school courses, the PACE program provides students with parenting courses, career guidance, transportation, breakfast and lunch and — most importantly, Taylor said — child day care.