By Linda Kor
Members of the Winslow School District Governing Board discussed the success of the Safe and Supportive Schools Grant program at their Dec. 4 meeting. According to Assistant Superintendent Lance Heister, the programs funded under that grant have shown amazing results.
The grant supports three areas. The student mentoring program, peer tutoring and support groups. Following the meeting, Heister explained, “The juniors and seniors pair together to mentor each of the freshmen, and it has had amazing results. Our referrals have dropped dramatically low, and we believe it has a lot to do with those juniors and seniors.”
The mentors are selected based on their academic and attendance levels, but a few are selected for different reasons.
“We have a few who have been in trouble in the past, but are turning themselves around. Some of these have become our best mentors, because they can tell these kids where they’ve been and why it’s not the direction to take,” stated Heister.
Another program, peer tutoring, allows students to assist teachers with other students in the classroom during their free hour, and receive credit as well. According to Heister, this has fostered improvement in student comprehension, especially in mathematics.
The support groups provided through the grant offer perhaps the greatest results. The groups are organized with an adult leader and allow students to talk about issues in their lives. “This doesn’t involve psychologists or counseling. It’s just an opportunity to talk about their concerns and be heard,” said Heister.
One group in particular, The Breakfast Club, is having a profound affect. The group includes 10 to 12 students who have had attendance problems in the past. Their attendance has improved about 90 percent over last year.
“It’s about connectedness, reaching out in a way to include students who may not have felt they belonged to anything before,” he said.
One example Heister used to explain the circumstance is that while half the students at WHS may participate in a basketball game, either by playing in the game, in cheer, band or by watching the game, the other half have no means to get to the game, live too far away or family circumstances simply won’t allow it. By not being able to take part in school life other than academically, many students may feel unnoticed, unwanted or isolated. When they feel they belong, that they are cared for, these students feel better about themselves and can plan a better future.
Heister gave a lot of the credit for the programs’ success this year to program facilitator Nicole Buonviri, a graduate of WHS who returned home after obtaining her college degree. The grant is in its third and final year, but Heister is hopeful that with the results that the program has produced, they will receive an extension of the grant and be able to see more positive results in the coming years.
In other business, the board approved policy revisions recommended by the Arizona School Boards Association regarding board member conflict of interest, evaluation of superintendent, bidding and purchasing procedures, and drug and alcohol use by students.
The board also approved the following donations to the WHS Lady Hoop Club: $2,213.20 from Hoop Club parents; $200 from the Dilkon Chapter House; and $25 from Mr. and Mrs. Roy Hadnot.
They also approved out of state travel for five employees and two others to travel to the Nation Johnson-O’Malley Association Conference scheduled March 24-28 in Denver, Colo.
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By Linda Kor