Word on the street is that it’s hard to repeat the eighth grade in OUSD, even if your report card is loaded with Ds and Fs. (Remember the retention memo? I’m checking on the exact numbers.)
But teachers at Edna Brewer Middle School have long worried about kids who — because of their bad grades — don’t participate in the eighth-grade promotion ceremony at the end of the year. Not only do they miss out on a rite of passage, but they leave middle school on a trajectory of failure.
This year, history teacher Julie Greenfield and some of her colleagues decided to do something about it. They identified 75 kids with GPAs below a 2.0 and recruited 34 mentors to work with them, one-on-one, for at least an hour a week. All of the mentors are on Edna Brewer’s staff. More than 60 percent of the teachers signed up.
The Promotion for All mentoring sessions started in February, and already 31 students have brought up their grades. I asked some of those kids about why that is, and heard the same thing, over and over: They felt more confident and motivated in their classes because they knew someone was paying close attention (and helping them get organized) — someone who knew they were capable of succeeding.
Could it be that simple?
Greenfield noted that this is just one of several “intervention” programs at the school, but that the staff wanted to try something different. It costs next to nothing — well, other than a teacher or staff member’s valuable time and energy, which is not to be underestimated. Next year, they might expand the program to include mentors from the community.
Do you know of any other mentoring programs that were started and run by school staff? Is this something that would help students at your school?
We’ll have a story about it this week, so stay tuned.