Tagged “Adolescents”

Middle School Looks to Social Curriculum for Success

Jefferson Middle School, Champaign, Ill.

A first–time recipient of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform 2011 Schools to Watch® Award, Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, Ill., prides itself on continually enhancing its positive school climate through a social curriculum.

The curriculum, based on a combination of Positive Behavior Intervention Support, Positive Behavior Facilitation, and Howard Glasser's "Nurtured Heart Approach," has helped the school see a remarkable decrease in discipline referrals (down 54.7 percent) and suspensions (down 63.6 percent). Heavily committed to closing the achievement gap, Jefferson Middle School also focuses on asking the best questions about how it can improve each student's individual school experience rather than immediately addressing best practices.

Jefferson Middle School is also a National AVID Demonstration School and a SMART Showcase School.

From Kindergarteners to Pre-Service Teachers, Flourishing Learning Community Serves All Students

University of Wyoming Lab School, Laramie, Wyo.

Located on the University of Wyoming (UW) campus, the University of Wyoming Lab School serves as a hub for innovative, research-based education for its students, as well as those in the UW Teacher Education Program. With more than 400 preservice teachers completing observations and practicum experiences in the classrooms, UW Lab School is not only providing a rich educational experience for its K–9 student population, but also for future teachers.

Engaged and meaningful learning is a critical part of the curriculum at UW Lab School, and teachers believe that students are fully capable of self-directed learning and independent research. From weekly art, music, and physical education classes to research-based mathematics and integrated literacy coursework, students develop well-rounded knowledge and an awareness of multicultural issues.

Collaboration with the UW Department of Anthropology has given students the chance to apply classroom content to real-world experiences as they participate in a National History Channel Save Our History Project that involves analyzing excavation data, exploring cultural and economic implications related to identified artifacts, and helping to create an exhibit.

The high level of achievement at UW Lab School is indicative of the flourishing learning community and the school's commitment to providing the best education experience for every student.

Strong Policy and Community Collaboration Speak Volumes

Grand Forks, N.Dak.

A four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Grand Forks, N.Dak., strives to evoke positive action through strong policies and community collaboration.

Practices like the Grand Forks Youth Commission, composed of students from middle and high schools who express their voice about community issues; the PASS and Interventions programs, which use innovative approaches to assist in responding to student challenges; and the Grand Forks Helping Hands Summer Camp, which helps young people understand the importance of volunteerism as they provide opportunities for a wide range of children, are all positive change agents that will continue to promote leadership and service among all generations.

Diversity and Mobility Set the Stage for Youth Involvement

Lakewood, Wash.

As a four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Lakewood, Wash., has been a driving force in serving its youth population.

Diversity and mobility have set the stage for the city's ability to provide a multitude of youth-related services that range from mobile food programs, which ensure provisions to youth without transportation, to the Pierce County Bookmobiles that provide educational resources to youth who come from low-income or isolated areas. With more than 200 members of the Lakewood Community Collaboration continuing to address the needs of youth and the wealth of youth involvement in their community, Lakewood is a symbol for positive change.

Working Together to Close Achievement Gap

Abington School District, Pa.

The Abington School District in Pennsylvania is one that truly understands the importance of closing the achievement gap with minority, low-income, and special education students through significant parent involvement and unique initiatives and practices.

The Abington Community Taskforce has helped create programs like the Abington Community Celebration, which raised more than $100,000 to fund youth-oriented activities and has helped the district excel in academic programs. All elementary schools have exceeded their adequate yearly progress goals, and over 90 percent of Abington's graduating classes pursue higher education, earning over $5 million in scholarships.

Abington School District is a four-time recipient of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Leadership Models Endorse Positive Youth Engagement

Manchester, N.H.

Two-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People designation, Manchester, N.H., stresses youth leadership through all of its practices and is known nationally for its work in the design, development, and implementation of leadership models.

Whether it is the City of Manchester, through the Departments of Planning, Health, Youth Services, or the Manchester School District, positive and engaging programs are budding around the community:

  • The Weed-n-Seed Initiative has led to the development of programs to reduce the number of youth in juvenile justice and improve youth health.
  • The City Year Young Heroes is a service-learning program that serves as a platform for middle-grades students to understand important social issues while giving them the chance to positively influence their communities.

Young people in Manchester are working alongside adults to fully support the academic, social, and physical needs of everyone in their community.

Midwestern Culture Cultivates Rich Opportunities for Youth

Omaha, Neb.

Incorporating student voice, engagement, and overall well-being into the community are top priorities in Omaha, Neb. Nestled in an environment with strong Midwestern values, the city has a deep understanding and focus on creating a collaborative pathway to achievement so that its youth can succeed.

Interactive leadership programs, like Youth Leadership Omaha and the City of Omaha's Mayor's Youth Commission, have allowed students to examine their community in full and participate in addressing community needs to promote long-term wellness. A dedication to the growth of youth is also evident in volunteering, receiving mentoring services, and gaining preparation for post-secondary education that are easily accessible through local nonprofit organizations, like Building Bright Futures and the Midlands Mentoring Partnership.

Omaha, Neb., is a first-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

All Sectors Play A Role in Youth Development

Missoula, Mont.

From the academic sector to the financial and environmental sectors, every part of Missoula, Mont., is dedicated to serving its youth population. Programs like Child Care Resources, the Forest Service, and Graduation Matters Missoula speak to the community's dedication.

  • Child Care Resources provides scholarships for low-income youth to participate in fee-based programs.
  • The Forest Service allows students to learn about the wilderness and take advantage of its proximity to the community.
  • Graduation Matters Missoula is a recent partnership whose focus is to ensure that the whole community plays a role in keeping students in school. Its goal is to achieve a 100 percent graduation rate through promoting academic reentry or completing General Education Development requirements.

Accessibility to all of these programs is a strong priority, and Missoula is continuing to address the needs of its youth through community collaboration. In recognition of its commitment to youth, Missoula is a winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Challenges of Poverty-Stricken Community Diminished Through Award-Winning Programs

Pascagoula, Miss.

No matter the challenge or obstacle, Pascagoula, Miss., always aims for excellence among its youth population. With a 74 percent district poverty rate, the community sees the importance of providing programs that nourish youth on multiple levels—mentally, socially, and academically.

Destination Graduation! is a dropout prevention program for at-risk students that allows interaction with business partnerships and industry and service groups to give students the opportunity to get involved in real-world situations. The program won the 2009 National Dropout Prevention Network's Crystal Star Award, and the community is continuing to provide positive resources. For example, an unused school was converted into a Family Interactive Center where families have a safe place to learn and play together.

Pascagoula was the first certified "Child Friendly Community" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in addition to being a winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition for its incredible work.

Family-Oriented Community Excels in Helping Youth Learn, Serve, and Grow

Butler County, Mo.

Family-oriented Butler County, Mo., has been putting forth an inspiring amount of effort into providing a multitude of opportunities for youth. "Learning, serving, and growing" characterizes the focus of this two-time winner of the whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Between community theater productions, spelling bees, and civic athletics, youth are involved in educational opportunities across a spectrum of subjects. A driving force in Butler County is the Community Resource Council, where more than 300 individuals and 100 local agencies participate in community action committees that promote healthy children and families.

Youth are even involved in developing local policies—almost every youth-serving program asks for youth participants to assess the community's role in meeting their needs and the programmatic effects through an annual survey.

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