In the spring of 2008, I met with our district superintendent, who is now retired, and during our meeting I was made aware that our graduating seniors were not pursuing higher education. At the conclusion of our meeting he challenged me to come up with a plan that would encourage our students to attain higher education. Here are the details of my “Health Care Plan.
During the summer of 2008, I began a pilot program focusing on helping ten incoming junior high seventh graders. The program is designed to help students with study skills that are necessary to be successful in junior high and beyond. In addition, the program also encourages students to begin thinking about their educational goals and how to begin preparing academically and financially at an early age.
In surveying students, I found that technology plays an important part in a students’ desire to attain higher education. Living in a rural community many of our students do not have access to computers or laptops. Therefore, I contacted our after school program, Community Schools, and asked if they had the financial ability to purchase iPod Nanos for student use. They did not; however, funding was made available by forming a partnership with a local youth coalition in exchange for community service that was performed by the young teens that are involved in the piloting program. The purpose was to have the students use the iPods as tutors and download lessons and tutorials from iTunes University, which is sponsored by Apple Technologies. The students used the iPods during the 2008 -2009 school year and they reported that the iPods were useful as a study aid.
For the 2009 – 2010 school year I wanted to involve ten more students. While shopping for 10 more iPods, I noticed that I could purchase netbooks for almost the same price as the iPods. I wrote a grant and received enough funding to purchase 14 netbooks. Students who were chosen to receive a netbook must adhere to certain guidelines which are:
- Students who receive a netbook may use the net book until the end of their senior year as long as they maintain a “C” average.
- Students must maintain good conduct in the classroom.
- Students whose grades fall below a “C” average or class conduct is unsatisfactory will forfeit the use of the netbook.
- Students must abide by the District Technology Use Agreement.
Feedback from this group of students who used the netbooks was favorable. For example, students reported that they were able to type their research projects, create PowerPoint presentations and access the internet at school, which helped them complete their school work. During the 2011 – 2012 school year I wrote two more grants and received enough funding to purchase 13 more netbooks, which brings the total of participants in my program/plan to 27 students in grades 7 through 12. If students graduate from high school and commit to attain higher education, they turn in the netbook that was issued to them and in return they receive a brand new laptop to help them further their education. This year I will have my first participant graduate from the program/plan and next year I am looking forward to having 10 students complete the program.
In addition, as part of my program/plan, I have established a partnership with our local junior college, Central Arizona College, where students are given the opportunity to attend a college lecture and perform field research. Furthermore, Central Arizona College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society has taken an interest in the program and PTK members visit my classroom and speak to the students about the advantages of obtaining higher education.
In conclusion, by working together in order to resolve the “Quiet Crisis” parents, government officials, educators, schools, and higher education institutions need to work cooperatively to begin to instill in our young students the importance of attaining higher education.