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Woman Believes in Her Students

Shayla Jones, the site coordinator at the Marietta Performance Learning Center, helps students at the non-traditional high school.

"All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them."

The Magic Johnson quote is featured in the handbook for the Marietta Performance Learning Center, or MPLC, a small, non-traditional program geared towards students who are not succeeding in the traditional school setting.

The motto could be used to describe the way Shayla Jones, the MPLC's site coordinator, operates.

"She believes in the kids even when they don't believe in themselves," said Tammie Roach, principal at the MPLC. "Ms. Jones is a natural educator. She has a natural instinct when it comes to young people."

PLCs serve as one of many dropout prevention strategies created by Communities in Schools, the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to keeping students in school.

from Communities in Schools. But she doesn't want to talk about it; she doesn't like to ring her own bell.

"It's not like I do this on my own," she said. "There's a synergy going on here."

But she should take credit for many programs at the MPLC, which has its own campus near downtown, said Roach.

"She cares about what she's doing," said Tanya Griggs, a Language Arts teacher at the school, which only accepts students from the district's one high school. "They (the kids) know not to play with Ms. Jones."

The school is not an alternative school. It has duel classes with , and the students want to be at the MPLC.

"We don't have the bad kids," Roach said. The students have just fallen behind in their classes and want to graduate. They might be a 17-year-old sophomore or a fifth-year senior.

As the site coordinator, Jones wears many hats. She explains that she handles all the programs that aren't academic. She helps make sure students have the proper clothes to wear for business. She helps with everything from washing students' clothes if need be to helping coordinate the job shadowing, the mentoring and college tour programs.

She helps lead students to the resources they might need, be it rent or a discount clothing store. She recently had a young lady that she didn't have the right size clothes for. She plans on going to Goodwill.

"You can get a really cute outfit," Jones said, "and all for under $10."

Thursdays are "Dress for Success" day and students must come to school wearing nice clothes.

Born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, Jones went to Marshall University for two years before deciding to move to Georgia. She worked at the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy before moving to the MPLC six years ago.

The 31-year-old is finishing her college education at Walden University, which is an online school.

Roach says the lack of a degree has never stopped Jones.

"She can get things out of these kids that those of us with two, three, four education degrees can't," she said smiling.

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