`Structure' Helped This Student to Achieve

JEANINE GRIFFIN was the youngest of three daughters - precocious and bored with school from the start. ``I could memorize all the books they gave me, and I always wondered why I had to go,'' she says. ``The minute I finished whatever I thought I had to do, I was done. And I got very disruptive.''

Both her parents worked, and there was ``lots of hostility in my home,'' she explains. At high school, she spent more time in the principal's office than in the classroom, and as she got older she was more interested in after-school jobs in local markets than in anything teachers had to offer. She quit as soon as she reached her freshman year.

But she soon realized that educational credentials had their value. ``I had no worries that I couldn't get a job. I could lie about my age, but I couldn't lie about my diploma,'' she says.

Jeanine heard about the Community School by reading the local paper. Through the late '70s the school came under attack for allegedly violating zoning laws, a battle it won. She had always felt she didn't ``fit,'' and the school's tussle with some townspeople appealed to her. ``I thought, `they didn't fit and they were doing OK.' ''

THE initial interview at the school confirmed her determination to attend and get a diploma. ``What was intriguing was they listened to my answers,'' she recalls. ``Nobody had ever done that before.''

Her tuition at the Community School was paid by the local high school, which was glad to have somebody else take her on.

The one-on-one tutoring suited Jeanine. She had been used to faking knowledge, ``but when I had a tutor, they saw I wasn't getting it, though I was saying, `Yeah, yeah, I get it.' '' She breaks into a laugh, ``What I learned here stuck.''

That was back in 1980. Since leaving the school she has married, been divorced, and is now remarried. She has two sons and comments, ``Now that I have children of my own I know that they thrive on structure.''

The structured life she experienced at the Community School made her aware of possibilities she hadn't glimpsed before, she says. ``My ability to put my mind to something - I didn't recognize that until I went here.''

She has completed some college work and has held jobs in real-estate management. She has also served on the board of directors of the Community School. Her goal now is either law school or broadcast journalism, and she has little doubt she'll attain it. ``I can be a good attorney if I want to be - or a good mother. I got that from here.''

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