Rutherford Opportunity Center principal, Julie Powell, was recently certified as a National Dropout Prevention Specialist by the National Dropout Prevention Center. The Center’s mission is to increase graduation rates through research and evidence-based solutions. Since its inception in 1986, the National Dropout Prevention Center has worked to improve opportunities for all young people to fully develop the academic, social, work, and healthy life skills needed to graduate from high school and lead productive lives. By promoting awareness of successful programs and policies related to dropout prevention, the work of the Center and its members has made an impact on education from the local to the national level. Mrs. Powell’s work and leadership mirror those ideals and commitments. Central to her own work is a deep, personal commitment to promoting students’ development of the academic, social, work, and life skills necessary not only to graduate, but also to succeed in life beyond graduation. She approaches each student individually, pursuing creative approaches, solutions, and supports that help to remove barriers to success. RCS recognizes the creativity and relentlessness Mrs. Powell brings to that work, and we recognize the value it holds in the lives her students. The National Dropout Prevention Specialist certification program verifies knowledge and expertise in at-risk youth issues and strategies for raising graduation rates. It integrates national research-based effective strategies, known youth risk factors, professional learning participation, and field implementation of acquired knowledge. Successful participants must meet rigorous professional learning requirements around twelve or more research-based effective strategies, complete a field project, and submit an official report detailing almost two dozen features of the project’s design and impact. By completing the certification program, Mrs. Powell not only enhances her own professional effectiveness, but also adds value to our school system’s broader efforts to ensure graduation success for all of our students.