Brainerd High creates "Teen Moms" club to combat dropout rate - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Brainerd High's "Teen Moms" club tackles dropout rate

Posted: Updated:

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -  "Teen Moms" is one of the most popular shows on MTV, but some say it glamorizes teen pregnancy, bestowing fame on teenage mothers.  Brainerd High School is handling teen pregnancy in a different way.  The school is offering support and encouragement to its current teen moms, while spreading the message to others that this is not a club you should aspire to join.

The Brainerd High Teen Moms Club is a weekly circle of teachable moments, parenting tips, and even a few tears. It's members have much in common.

"I don't think any of us got pregnant on purpose," said Symphony Jones, an 18-year-old senior, and the mother of two-year-old Malik.

Her classmate Kiera Payne, also a senior, said, "I think some girls get pregnant for the wrong reason. They think it's cute, but it's not."  Kiera's two-year-old daughter Precious, like most of the Brainerd students' children, is in daycare while her mother is in high school.  Others are being cared for by grandparents or great-grandparents.

Brionna Solomon, an 18-year-old junior, is in the unique position of having a five-year-old daughter enrolled in a nearby elementary school.  Brionna became pregnant with Toriana at the age of 12.  She and her 13-year-old boyfriend had gone to his house to "hang out," when she said, "things started happening."  Like the other teen moms, she loves her child but says, "I should have waited.  I don't want this to happen to my child.  I will be there for her."

"DROPPING OUT SHOULDN'T BE AN OPTION"

Guidance Counselor Melissa Brassel, in her third year at Brainerd,  saw the high dropout rates among teen moms, and formed the club to keep them in school.  She organizes play days for the moms and their kids, hoping to boost their self-esteem.  "I felt like someone should be there for them, showing them the resources that are available," she said. "Dropping out does not have to be an option for them."

Symphony Jones is careful about the message she sends to younger girls.  "Some people see me and my little boy, and they say, oh he's so cute, I want to have a baby like that," she said. "I tell them you need to wait until you're older and more mature."

WHY NO "TEEN DADS?"

The club includes about twenty teen moms.  Each wonders why society puts the blame on them, and them alone.  Most say they get little or no help from the fathers of their children. Yet there is no "Teen Dads Club."

Kiera Payne said, "I think that's unfair. People are in our face, criticizing us, like we got pregnant on our own. We didn't do it by ourselves."

Ms. Brassel agrees.  She said, "Raising a child is supposed to be a team effort.  If I had my way, there would be teen dad groups too.  They lack the skills they need, to be the fathers they need to be."

Kiera Payne's after-school hours are divided between homework and raising her two-year old daughter Precious.  Kiera is determined to graduate this spring, and to be a good role model so that Precious will not repeat the cycle. "I know I will always be here for her," Kiera said. "She won't have to sneak behind my back when she's a teenager.  I'll be here no matter what."

TEACHING THEM TO BE GOOD PARENTS

Ms. Brassel admits that some people frown on the idea of a Teen Moms Club in a high school setting.  But given a choice of ignoring the problem, or encouraging the girls to stay in school, she's glad to chose to take action.  "Teaching them to be good parents is what we should be doing," she said.  "Their babies can be positive contributors to society.  We just have to work with these young moms, to give them the tools and the support to be good parents."

Ms. Brassel says there are several other teen moms, and pregnant students at Brainerd who do not want to be involved in the club.  "We try to reach out to them," she said. "They need to know someone cares about them and their babies.  It's in their best interest to stay in school, and to finish school."

Chattanooga is home to "OnPoint,"an organization that visits schools, counseling students on making good lifestyle choices.  Visit them at www.liveonpoint.org

  • School PatrolMore>>

  • Ridgeland, LaFayette High schools to have new principals this fall

    Tuesday, June 27 2017 7:44 AM EDT2017-06-27 11:44:21 GMT
    Karen HughesKaren Hughes
    Both Walker County, GA high schools, Ridgeland and Lafayette, will have new principals in place when classes resume in August. Karen Hughes, a former LaFayette Middle principal who currently serves as the county's director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education, will be the new principal of Ridgeland High School.  She said she is excited about returning to Ridgeland, where she graduated with the school's first senior class in 1990.  She succeeds Glen Brown, who...More
    Both Walker County, GA high schools, Ridgeland and Lafayette, will have new principals in place when classes resume in August. Karen Hughes, a former LaFayette Middle principal who currently serves as the county's director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education, will be the new principal of Ridgeland High School.  She said she is excited about returning to Ridgeland, where she graduated with the school's first senior class in 1990.  She succeeds Glen Brown, who...More
  • CGLA earns national "Innovation and Change" Award

    CGLA earns national "Innovation and Change" Award

    Thursday, June 22 2017 5:24 AM EDT2017-06-22 09:24:04 GMT
    Dr. Elaine Swafford receives CGLA award from Dr. Jill BercowiczDr. Elaine Swafford receives CGLA award from Dr. Jill Bercowicz

    The often-honored Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) has earned more national recognition.

    More

    The often-honored Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) has earned more national recognition.

    More
  • SCHOOL PATROL

    23 teachers participate in ArtsBuild Leadership program

    23 teachers participate in ArtsBuild Leadership program

    Thursday, June 15 2017 4:41 PM EDT2017-06-15 20:41:16 GMT

    The summer Institute gave Pre-K-12 teachers and administrators the opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of the role the arts play in the greater Chattanooga area.

    More

    The summer Institute gave Pre-K-12 teachers and administrators the opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of the role the arts play in the greater Chattanooga area.

    More
Powered by Frankly