Because course performance in reading and math is a major indicator of whether or not a student is at-risk for dropping out of school, Communities In Schools of Peninsula (CISP) focuses on delivering reading and math mentoring programs aimed at bringing students up to grade level and keeping them on track for graduation. These programs help high-risk students achieve both short-term and long-term success in both school and life by providing attention and support from caring adult mentors. CISP’s volunteer mentors do much more than tutor; mentors form a strong connection with the students with whom they are matched that builds students’ confidence and greatly aids students in realizing their potential.
Students are referred to Communities In Schools of Peninsula’s (CISP) programs by teachers and counselors, and many of the students are in the bottom 10 percent of their class. Students targeted for our academic mentoring programs have multiple high risk factors associated with dropping out, including economic hardship, limited English skills, low test scores, and high transiency. According to the Department of Education, students from low-income families drop out of school at five times the rate of their peers from higher-income families (“Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2009, Compendium Report,” 10/2011).
Last year we served 268 youth who were mentored by 158 volunteers. The after school reading mentoring programs are held one hour per week during the school year, and the math mentoring programs are one and one-half hours per week during the school year.
CISP’s Mentoring Our Students to Success includes the following reading and math mentoring programs:
- Artondale Elementary (Gig Harbor, WA) – after school reading mentoring for 2nd and 3rd graders
- Evergreen Elementary (Lakebay, WA) – after school reading mentoring for 1st – 3rd graders
- Harbor Heights Elementary (Gig Harbor, WA) – after school reading mentoring for 1st – 3rd graders
- Minter Creek Elementary (Gig Harbor, WA) – after school reading mentoring for 2nd and 3rd graders
- Purdy Elementary (Gig Harbor, WA) – after school math mentoring for 3rd and 4th graders
- Vaughn Elementary (Vaughn, WA) – after school reading and math mentoring for 2nd – 5th graders
- Key Peninsula Middle School (Lakebay, WA) – after school math mentoring for 6th and 7th graders
- Kopachuck Middle School (Gig Harbor, WA) – after school math mentoring for 6th and 7th graders
- Henderson Bay Alternative High School (Gig Harbor, WA) – in-class math mentoring for 9th – 12th graders
- Peninsula High School (Gig Harbor, WA) – in-class math mentoring for 9th and 10th graders and after school math mentoring for 9th – 12th graders
Reading mentoring is provided to struggling elementary school readers whose teachers feel they would benefit from one-on-one attention. Students gain reading fluency and begin to see themselves as a “reader.” Mentors and mentees take turns reading and talk about how they connect to the story. They also engage in activities that make reading fun, such as art and word games.
Math mentoring is provided at the elementary, middle, and high school level to youth designated by teachers as “at risk of failure.” Together, mentors/mentees discuss problem solving strategies, utilize computer-assisted instruction, and focus on basic building blocks for math. At Purdy Elementary School, students utilize math applications on iPads. Some of the students even discovered an algebra application that they enjoyed exploring even though it was well above their grade level.