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What's Up Magazine

Dr. Charlestine Fairley

Jan 14, 2013 10:23PM ● By Anonymous

Like the many students that she has inspired and helped to achieve their goals and dreams, Dr. Charlestine Fairley at one time has stared down adversity, overcame it, and accomplished greatness. After serving as a counselor, director, and oftentimes both within the public health sector for Anne Arundel County during the 1990s—notably substance abuse and disease prevention programs—Dr. Fairley turned to education as another means to improve the quality of life for at-risk youth and adults. In 1993 she joined Sojouner-Douglass College and led recruiting efforts for an Annapolis area satellite campus. Struggling to drum up enrollment, she began classes that October with only 10 students. But classes grew during the ensuing years…and grew. Today, she presides as Dean of the campus (now located in Edgewater), which consists of 12 classrooms, one science laboratory, a bookstore, a library, a computer laboratory, a conference room, a cultural arts studio, a drop-in-child care center and nine offices for staff. But Dr. Fairley had more up her sleeve. After reading a report that stated 70 percent of African-American male high school students in Anne Arundel County had a D or below grade average, Dr. Fairley decided to turn that stat around. In 2009, she started a pilot program jointly with Anne Arundel County Public Schools—the Middle College High School Program—with a target population of 21 males who had a high probability of failing 9th grade. Failure would signal an extremely high risk of dropping out of high school before graduating.

That first program was very successful, with 17 of the 21 students completing the program and being promoted to the 10th grade. Before they started the program at Sojourner-Douglass College, the average pilot program student attendance rate was 81.7 percent. After they started the program, the average rate increased to 91.8 percent. One student’s attendance increased from 54.5 percent to 100 percent. Program administrators saw nearly a 20 percent decrease in discipline referrals. Student participants passed only 59 percent of their classes before they started the program and afterwards they were showing an immediate pass rate of 76 percent of their classes.

Today, enrollment requests exceed capacity, so Dr. Fairley has organized a group of Anne Arundel County leaders to create The Annapolis Southern Maryland Charter School, Inc.—a charter school that would expand the success of the Middle College High School Program and enhance student opportunities for even greater achievement. Currently, the application is being processed and approval is expected.

“What we do today will always matter,” says Dr. Fairley. “We must do whatever it takes to educate all our children to compete in a global community.” Thankfully for our community, Dr. Fairley takes those words to heart and has inspired others to do the same.