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Words from a School

 In Across the Country, Leadership, News

A child who can’t read by the third grade is eight times more likely to drop out of school. These children are prime candidates for the dropout epidemic that is crippling the chances for success for 1.23 million youngsters every year in America, condemning them to repeat the cycle of poverty many have come from.

“Kids from poverty have difficult issues in their lives,” says Brian Carpenter, principal of Bauder Elementary School in Fort Collins, CO. “Sometimes it’s verbal or physical abuse, drug or alcohol abuse in the home, homelessness, or the basic needs of clothing, food and shelter.” Children who are destabilized have a hard time mastering even the most basic academic material. “They don’t know if they are going to be fed or have a home, or if dad will be there,” says Carpenter. “They have to feel safe before they can learn.”

Mentor Cheryl Jelinek of Greeley, Co learned that the grandmother of the little boy she mentors is caring for a houseful of her grandchildren because there parents are incarcerated. This grandmother is raising the children because the parents are out of the picture. When asked about the KIDS HOPE USA program, Carpenter replied, “It’s about providing a consistent relationship. What we see is the change in hope, the change in attitude. These children have a rock in their life that will always be there for them – not just one year, but for the next and the next.”

Recently, Judy McCollum, principal of Katherine Lee Bates Elementary in Colorado Springs was named a National Distinguished Principal and the Colorado Principal of the year. She would like to see KIDS HOPE USA partnerships blanket the nation. “We’ve been a KIDS HOPE school for six years and why other schools and churches don’t start a program is beyond me,” she says. “I could write a book on the difference that the mentors have made in the lives of some of my students.”

Thank you, to all of you, for helping make the difference in kids lives – one hour at a time.

 

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