Helping students become successful

As the school year comes to an end, it is time to assess the progress of all students, but Kump Education Center mentors focus particularly on those who had disadvantages at the outset. Over the last four years we have developed patterns that prove to be effective in helping at-risk students become more successful in school. We try to build meaningful self-confidence, monitor progress regularly, and establish habits of effective goal setting.

We begin with basic respect for each student. Mentors do not assume that kids are stupid, lazy or mean just because their records show low grades, poor attendance, and antisocial behaviors. Mentors start with an interest survey to see what students like to do and what they believe they do well. After mentors help students discover their own “Star Qualities,” they begin developing confidence by focusing on existing interests and abilities. Building meaningful self-confidence establishes the foundation for success.

Often there is nobody at home who is willing to help students get up and get on the bus. Mentors check attendance and help students to focus on getting to school each day. We buy alarm clocks for students if need be. Mentors help students to monitor their own academic progress each week by checking to see what assignments are due on the computer reporting system “Live Grade,” or by looking at teacher progress notes. Often work is missing and students are not aware how much a zero will bring down their average grade in a class.

Early in the fall of the year mentors teach students how to set “Smart Goals” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). Students start with basic things like better attendance. If they missed a two days last week, they may try not to miss any days this week. They may also plan to do all their assignments or improve performance in sports. The ability to set and meet personal goals is the beginning of hope for many individuals who want to take control of their own lives. Students do not let negative experiences from the past limit their dreams of a brighter future.

It is true that monitoring functions are things that families could do at home, but many parents are not able to pay attention to the needs of their children.

Some single parents are working two jobs to make ends meet, and others are dealing with addiction, depression, divorce, and other hardships. Our mentors focus on what they can change.