Three Area School Districts Launch Graduation Initiative
GREEN BAY, Wis. (Jan. 8, 2019) Three Brown County school districts are piloting an initiative with an ambitious goal: Ensure every student graduates from high school.
Denmark School District, Green Bay Area Public School District and Howard-Suamico School District are launching the initiative in four schools and will use the next few months to evaluate its effectiveness. If it works as they expect it to, they will explore ways to expand it.
“There are more than 6,000 students in Brown County at risk of dropping out before graduation, according to data from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction,” said Adam Hardy, executive director of Achieve Brown County, the agency that is coordinating the initiative.
“We’re working with seven partner organizations to change that,” said Hardy. “The four schools in this test phase will work with three student-support agencies: Big Brothers Big Sisters’ and its new ‘Six-Twelve Mentoring’ program; Family Services and its ‘Student Assistance Program’; and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay’s ‘BE GREAT: Graduate’ program.”
The four schools in the pilot effort are Bay Port High School, Denmark Middle School, Edison Middle School and Preble High School. The pilot initiative will match an adult mentor with eligible students at each of these area schools. Big Brothers Big Sisters will manage the volunteer application process, and make and support the matches throughout the life of the match.
The pilot is recruiting 100 adults to submit online applications to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin by March 1 at www.GraduationTaskForce.org.
School counselors and other staff who have been trained to use a customized screening process will identify students who are eligible for the pilot. Participation is voluntary.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters has been around for 100 years,” said Katie Hess, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin. “Our program is proven to help children navigate the challenging years of growing up. Children who have a mentor are not only more likely to stay in school and graduate, they are more likely to develop the soft skills that are vital in society and today’s workforce.
“We are proud to be a collaborative partner in the Achieve mentoring initiative and look forward to seeing more detailed data that show a direct connection between mentoring and school performance,” Hess said.
Volunteers with the Six-Twelve Mentoring program are asked to make a one-year commitment and may choose to volunteer exclusively at one of the four pilot school sites or meet with the chile for outings in the community.
Typically, children enter Big Brothers Big Sisters between the ages of 7 and 13. With the launch of the Achieve mentoring initiative, children in grades six through 12 can now be matched with a mentor and receive the same professional support and resources as traditional matches.
“Collaboration and innovation come with challenges,” said Hardy, “but the beauty of this mentoring initiative is that it allows the flexibility to adapt and change along the way to achieving our outcomes. We are confident that mentoring can change the trajectory for children at risk of not graduating. In fact, we have great expectations for success and growth of the program.”
Businesses and individuals interested in learning how they can participate in this initiative should go online to www.GraduationTaskForce.org. Volunteers may also contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin at www.bbbsnew.org or call (920) 498-2227.
About Achieve Brown County
Achieve Brown County is a collaborative community effort to help all local children, from birth to career, achieve their highest potential. The partnership rallies its efforts around critical indicators of success, taking action through shared priorities and outcomes, a culture of continuous improvement which effectively uses data to drive improved results and aligning our community’s resources toward common goals. Online at https://www.achievebrowncounty.org/.
Adam Hardy, Executive Director