Have you seen the story that went viral this week about the teacher in Denver that asked her third grade students to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…”?
The stories the students shared give us a glimpse into the sweet and heartbreaking realities that children bring with them into the classroom every day. Here are a few - I wish my teacher knew:
“… that I want to go to college.”
“…I haven’t seen my real mom is over two years and that makes me sad.”
“… that I worry because my mom is getting sick a lot and was in the hospital last night.”
“… I don’t have friend to play with me.”
Challenges In the Classroom
Every child brings into their classroom a host of strengths and challenges. Some of these challenges are visible, others hidden. Many can impede learning and our teachers and schools have a difficult time managing all these needs along with their efforts to educate our kids.
In addition, middle school is a crucial time in a child's education. In fact, without intervention, middle school students with ONE OR MORE “INDICATOR” only have a 25% CHANCE OF GRADUATING from high school on time. What are these “indicators”?
- Attendance - Missing 18 days or 10% of school
- Behavior - 2 or more mild or serious infractions and
- Course performance - Failing English or math in 6-9 grade.
Local Efforts Underway
Early intervention is key during these years and this is why United Way’s Middle School Success Initiative is working closely with Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, institutions of higher learning and local nonprofits. Together, we are developing strategies to improve the lives of students, their families and neighboring communities by using middle schools as hubs where public and nonprofit resources, volunteers and support can help teachers address these needs.
This is a true collaborative project. We are working together to identify issues to tackle, tools to accomplish our goals and key measurements that will allow us to know if we are making a difference in three pilot schools: Enka, Erwin and Asheville middle schools.
We will need your help to be successful. Businesses, families, faith communities and neighborhood groups – all will have a role to play in this process. So keep your ears and eyes open!