Thomas said she worries about the consequences.
“We don't want them to have repeat pregnancies,” she said. “Without them having someone on campus that they could go to, that was a health care professional, it may eventually impact those rates of pregnancy.”
Taryn English cried when she found out she was pregnant. Her appointment was to begin using birth control.
She dropped out of Western Heights High School and missed nearly a year of school.
The baby's father moved to Ohio, where he's on probation.
Now, at 16, she's a single mom to a 6-month-old named Kaesin. After his birth, she got her act together with the support of her parents. She enrolled at Emerson.
“You have to be responsible for yourself and your kid,” she said.
Part of that responsibility is avoiding another pregnancy.
English said she would love a campus health clinic where she could take her son or get birth control. Instead, she misses class when he needs to see the doctor, and she puts off her own appointments.
Most of the moms are driven to graduate, just like English, science teacher Sandra Bennett said. But many face obstacles in addition to their pregnancies.
Some girls have parents who are locked up. Several are the only responsible ones in their families. Others have learning disabilities and already were academically behind. All of them have spent time out of school to give birth.
Add to that the anxiety teachers and students feel without having a medical expert on campus.
It's another classroom distraction, another setback to graduation, Bennett said.
“You can't teach them, and you can't teach their classmates, until you address the medical issue,” she said.
A medical clinic wouldn't erase all the distractions, she said, but it would give them more time to focus on finishing school.
“Just with a little bit of support here, the girls learn there is a different way, a different world,” Bennett said. “There is a way out through education.”
No money for clinic
District officials aren't opposed to having an on-campus clinic, but the money isn't there, said Sheli McAdoo, director of secondary education and reform for the Oklahoma City School District.
“Schools are moving to try to be everything to all kids, and that creates quite a challenge,” she said.
“It is important and, at any point in time, the community can step up and come forward with opportunities to serve in that capacity.”
So that leaves Fuller, the Head Start family advocate, and the school's teachers and volunteers battling to prevent repeat pregnancies.
Fuller pushes her hair back and leaves her hand on her forehead. She's frustrated no one will fund the clinic.
“They see these pregnancies as statistics — not humans,” Fuller said. “They're trying. They're trying so hard every day.”
But even determination can be foiled by poverty, peer pressure and loneliness. Many of the students Fuller sees don't come from loving homes, and they fall prey to boys who promise love in exchange for sex.
“It's just not simple,” Fuller said. “These girls don't live in our world.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
AT A GLANCE
Annual price of running health clinics at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City and the Margaret Hudson Program in Tulsa and Broken Arrow.
Average cost of hospital delivery of a baby in Oklahoma County.
Annual cost per child on SoonerCare.
Annual cost to Oklahoma taxpayers for teen pregnancy because of increased health care, welfare and other services.
Annual cost to U.S. taxpayers.
Number of births to Oklahoma teens in 2008.
Percentage of those births were to teens who were already mothers.
Percentage of teen mothers earn a diploma by age 22, compared with nearly 90 percent of women who have not given birth during adolescence.