Attendance, behavior and course performance are three key areas that lead to graduation dropouts. The John Hopkins research (highlighted in the FRONTLINE Report: Middle School Moment) that pinpoints these key areas that lead to graduation dropouts was very motivating for me, both as a former public school teacher and as a KIDS HOPE USA Director. I felt compelled to get involved in this opportunity, and fortunately when I shared this research (and video) with my pastor, he agreed. Middle School Mentors as they use the Simple Seven, and the online tools, develop common language that builds on student strengths and becomes a catalyst for positive intervention in these formative years. I used the video also as a common reference point in the fall orientation for mentors to be able to see the end goal. Knowing that a one-on-one relationship has a positive impact on attendance, on academic success, and positive behavior that, for many students, are the toughest years of school, is something we cannot ignore. It is worth the little extra effort on my part as a Director…but looking back it really wasn’t that much more. As I observe what is happening among the teens in our program at the end of our third marking period, it is gratifying to see some payoff already. We now have two-thirds of our NEXT students on the honor roll. That means we are making a positive difference in these young lives and according to the John Hopkins research, there is a 75% greater chance they will graduate from high school because of it. I figured even if we could save one, it mattered. It looks like many more will make it to graduation day, partly due to KIDS HOPE USA NEXT!
This testimonial was submitted by Steve Whitney, KHUSA Director for Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, MI.