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School Begins With Promises From Caring Adults

Tue, 20 Aug 2013 13:09:23 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

School Begins With Promises From Caring Adults

"How are you? You guys Ready to go?" "Oh I'm swag!" You're swag, is that what it is? Good swag there."

Kingsley Junior High School Principal Lynnette Mehall welcomed students back to school for the fall on the first day of classes. In both district 87 and Unit Five in Bloomington Normal, educators are also beefing up efforts to bring student performance at Bloomington and Kingsley Junior High Schools up among lower socioeconomic groups through so called Promise Councils, groups of adult volunteers checked by the Boys and Girls Club. Kingsley Mehall says this builds on past volunteer activities.

"We still had a gap in the achievement between low socioeconomic students and high socioeconomic students of about 25%."

The promise council of 100 caring adults includes the Bloomington Thunder Hockey Team. Coach Brian Gratz says he has mentored students in other schools, the satisfying part is not just the tutoring.

"It's more than just the first time. It's the second and third time when they see that you actually do take an interest in what they are doing and in their lives."

"Showing that specific interest, I mean, you see them light up and you can create a relationship with them that they know that they are supported and that there is a bright future ahead for them."

Mehall says the Promise Council for Pepper Ridge Elementary helped change scores from 40% of students meeting or exceeding standards to 75 or 80%.

"And we have found especially with young adolescents that those caring adults, the relationship piece is the key piece. If a student knows you care, then the student will work."

"Good morning. How are you? I can't believe you are an eighth grader. How can that be?" "I don't know." "I don't know either. And I think you are taller than I am now."

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