Parent thanks teacher before first day of school

A crowd listens to Veronica Newton's speech. / Allen Carter

Soon thousands of students will be back in school.

But as many students walk into Albany, Monroe, Dougherty and Westover high schools, there's another set of students going through the last line of defense for the Dougherty County School System.

Veronica Newton has three children. Two of them dropped out of school but the third time was the charm.

Her youngest daughter a recent high school graduate wouldn't have done it without some help.

"She was already asking me to pull her out, to let her drop out. Considering I had two children that ended up doing GEDs, it meant the world to me. To be able to see her do the graduation walk," said Newton.

That's why she took time to thank the staff of the Southwest Georgia Regional Achievement Center at their back to school faculty pep rally.

"Pretty much I want to tell them thank you. I have a daughter that would not have graduated without this program," said Newton.

The school takes in two sets of students. Some are just behind their peers.

"Chronologically speaking they are two years behind their peers in the regular school and academically they are two years behind," said Principal Dr. John Davis.

Others have been behind bars.

"Gang participation, drugs, violence, been arrested," said Davis. "We're supposed to be specialist. They are already behind, getting ready to drop out. We've got to open that door and do our best to receive them where they are and bring them up to what they are supposed to be," said Davis.

And even though the coming year will be tough, motivation from a proud parent makes the journey that much easier to travel.

"I want them to hear that because there is nothing I can do or say that will turn them on more than that parent testimony," said Davis.

"She was my last hope for graduation and she done it, thanks to this program," said Newton.