Child in Transition Program,
Anchorage School District
For more than 30 years, Barb Dexter has worked to connect homeless students to support they need to be as stable as possible at school while living in impossibly unstable situations. Barb is also at the heart of a pivotal collaboration that has helped to level the educational playing field for high school students at the highest risk of not graduating; a program that is also helping to increase the graduation rate: Back on Track. United Way of Anchorage, Covenant House Alaska and ASD’s Child in Transition Department partnered on this expansion for day, evening and summer credit recovery classes. Nothing happens in Back on Track without Barb; she is at the heart of this program, which has served more than 1393 high school students in its 6 years and supported over 806 seniors in earning a diploma. Back on Track students are economically disadvantaged and many are homeless. Some are kids Barb coaxed back after dropping out, or slipped and continued to lag, lacking a support system, and lacking hope. Barb builds relationships with the students and keeps tabs on them. Didn’t show up for school? Expect a call from Barb. She also oversees program staff and connection of kids to community-based services to address barriers to learning imposed by life instability outside school. Eyeglasses, birth certificate, food, health care, support finding rental assistance—whatever the issue, they get help. Back on Track students are now not only graduating, they are making plans for the future and launching with promise. Barb is working day and night to ensure they do.
In 2013, Barb was awarded the BP & YWCA Women of Achievement Award for leadership and excellence in professional and personal endeavors and contributions to the community. In 2009, Barb received a citation from the Alaska State Legislature commending her for tireless work for homeless and foster youth. She is also a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for Key Women Educators and former Chair of the National Association of the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Scholarship Committee. She has provided training at the national, state and local levels on unaccompanied youth, homeless children and youth in the child welfare system, migrant and homeless youth, and statewide training for school district liaisons on McKinney‐Vento legislation.
Barb has also been known to spend her own money and miles on college travel and supplies for homeless graduates.