Building a Tomorrow, Today 04/25/12
Fixing Academic Failure: The Boy With a Ball Harlandale Cross-Age Mentoring Program
An exciting event helping to develop youth around the globe.
Summer Literacy Program Begins 05/24/11
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A university scholarship program develops in El Triángulo de la Solidaridad.
Why do students drop out before High School graduation? Why does it matter?
What does it mean when a community struggles to help their young people graduate from high school? Why is a high school diploma so important to a young person’s future? How do you improve a young person’s chance of finishing high school and continuing on to reach their dreams?
Academics, politicians, educators and parents alike are all asking and answering these questions with urgency because US cities are struggling to help our students graduate from high school. Statistics show that nationally, three in ten students fail to finish high school with a diploma and barely fifty percent of Black and Hispanic students graduate (EPE Research Center, 2009).
Beyond what this means to these young people’s futures and what it means to our nation’s future, higher levels of academic failure also indicate that our families and our neighborhoods are weakening and failing to provide the care and support students need to help them grow and develop, including finishing high school.
San Antonio’s School Desertion Crisis
San Antonio is no exception to the national trend but actually falls below the US average. The EPE Research Center showed in a study in 2009 that San Antonio’s principal school district, San Antonio ISD, achieved a 47.3% graduation rate in 2004-05, ranking 38 out of 50 for the nation’s 50 largest cities.
San Antonio’s future is being decided as you read this by our academic failure today. If something is not done quickly, our future will be lived out within a shadow of the San Antonio we enjoy today.
Why Have We Failed To This Point?
The most overwhelming part of San Antonio’s current youth development crisis is not that no one is trying to fix it but rather that so little of what is being done is working.
Boy With a Ball has worked over the past year to identify the following reasons for this gap between investment and impact when it comes to dropout prevention programs:
Better Answers: Boy With a Ball’s Harlandale CAMP
After years of friendship with the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Dr. Michael Karcher, an expert in the field of mentoring and evaluation, Boy With a Ball Executive Director Jamie Johnson, and Dr. Karcher began discussing a possible collaboration together around a program called the Cross Age Mentoring Program or CAMP.
Dr. Karcher designed this program along with a detailed curriculum in accordance with extensive research that has shown cross-age mentoring programs to have improved attitudes toward and connectedness to schools and peers, self-efficacy, academic achievement and behavior problems. The program, which occurs after school but on campus, draws older high school students into being mentors for younger elementary and middle school students. Studies of the program have shown that participating as a high school mentor can have positive effects on the mentors as well as the mentees.
The event includes a Mentor/Mentee Meet & Greet Matching Orientation event at the beginning of the school year and offers monthly Super Saturday day-long events, where parents spend time with their children’s mentors, see the work their children have done and participate in activities with their children and their mentors.
Boy With a Ball’s rich experience in both mentoring young people, running youth programs and training young people to be mentors is a perfect fit for Dr. Karcher’s curriculum and will help ensure that the program is implemented effectively. Additionally, Dr. Karcher’s extensive experience in evaluating mentoring programs means that CAMP can be measured actively in order to learn, make adjustments and finding ways to make the program more and more effective in impacting the students and their families.
Boy With a Ball staffers have worked together with Dr. Karcher to layer in BWAB’s experience in working with young people and families in Central America. As a result, we have added to the program a strong focus on Boy With a Ball staffers reaching out weekly to the student’s families to help strengthen the family micro system and their capacity to thrive as a household within their neighborhood.
Finding a Home for the Program: Harlandale ISD
Boy With a Ball’s work to select a site for the program began by looking for a way to implement the program within the south side neighborhoods in which BWAB Southside Team Leaders Chris and Kelli Mora have focused their lives and work.
With Harlandale High School, Harlandale Middle School and Adams Elementary School right down the street from the Mora’s house, our staff began a conversation with Harlandale ISD that led them to meeting the district’s Superintendent Robert Jaklich with the help of his good friend, Jim Adams. Superintendent Jaklich showed immediate interest in the program and worked to have it approved by his cabinet and then the school board.
Harlandale ISD, under Mr. Jaklich’s direction has become a model of how an urban school district can focus it’s efforts to help turn itself around. Just a decade ago, Harlandale High School was labeled a “drop-out” factory by a report out of John Hopkins University. Now just two years after being appointed to his post, Superintendent Jaklich has overseen the school district’s transformation into a State Recognized school district.
Boy With a Ball could not be more honored or pleased at the opportunity to implement CAMP within a school district that is already exhibiting such positive momentum. While Harlandale ISD has made such significant strides, with 90% of the district’s students coming from economically disadvantaged households, additional help is required.
Where we are now
We began training the high school mentors during the Spring of 2011. After training a core group and spending time with them over the summer, we launched the first Mentee-Mentor pairs in September of 2011 with Harlandale High School l10th graders paired with Harlandale Middle School 6th graders.As we are close to finishing the first full year of Velocity, we realize that this program can be very successful, highly effective and could be part of long-term answers for San Antonio's dropout problem. This year has also allowed us to tweak different elements, change certain things and make sure that the program runs excellently to be ready for expansion.
We are currently working to establish the funding base necessary to make certain that the program is sustainable and are finding dramatic interest for a program that will establish a replicable model which could be scaled up here in San Antonio and beyond. If you are interested in financially supporting this program you can donate here.
For more information or to see how you can be involved, call the BWAB SA office at 210.858.1580 and ask for Anna Currie or send her an email at email@example.com.