Empowered–young women in Boise
The Salvation Army helps teenage moms make dreams a reality.
by Shandra Naegle –
The Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial facility in Boise, Idaho, is home to the Marian Pritchett School (MPS), a school devoted to teenage mothers, helping them transition into motherhood while continuing to work toward a high school diploma. The school is run by the Boise school district. The Salvation Army operates the Booth Daycare Center and also provides individual and group counseling, case management, and an incentive store where students can spend the points they earn from good grades and class attendance on items like diapers and formula.
Beyond the friendly atmosphere, MPS fosters a deeper connection among students and faculty—evidenced by their 90 percent graduation rate. In addition, 80 percent of graduates continue on to higher education. Not only is MPS a school, it is a family—a support system that has allowed the students to achieve their goals.
Brittany Thomason is a senior from Boise who has been attending MPS this past year. Every day she drops off her baby girl, Addison, at Booth’s daycare center while she attends classes, which include regular high school courses such as biology and history, along with courses in family finance, parental guidance, and legal issues. Students are also required to participate in daycare for parenting training and baby management. When asked what makes MPS unique Thomason said, “The teachers really work around your schedule and understand what you’re going through.”
Unfortunately, both MPS and Booth Daycare may have to shut down due to a lack of funding from the state. Thomason shared her opinion about this possibility, saying, “It’s unfair to the girls. A lot of them have babies already and what will they do if it closes? They can’t go to a regular school so they will just end up dropping out.”
Ruth Natibura, a refugee from Congo and a junior at MPS, agrees with Thomason. Natibura has been at MPS for the past two years, since her baby girl, Anna, was born. MPS is the only school she has attended in the U.S. She is impressed with the quality of her favorite classes—math, science and typing. “[MPS] helped me a lot. It changed my life,” she said.
Treasure Valley Coordinator and Boise Corps Officer Captain John Stennett says: “This school is irreplaceable. With over 40 years of service, no one has more expertise in helping this population. There are no other viable options for these girls and their babies.”
Graduates from MPS have moved on to successful careers in education, law, and business. Some have also become soldiers of The Salvation Army. After graduation, Natibura looks forward to a new challenge, and Thomason will go on to pursue her nursing degree at the College of Western Idaho, pursuing the course she always intended. One can only hope MPS will receive the funds to stay open and continue to support these young women and help them achieve their dreams.