- Behind The Scenes
A lack of funding puts a proven teaching tool on the shelf for now.
But education leaders in Pontotoc, Lee, Union, Calhoun and Chickasaw counties are poised to bring it back at a moment's notice.
Pontotoc Middle School Principal Mitzi Moore has a Governor's Award on her desk that speaks volumes.
It recognizes a partnership with Three Rivers Planning and Development District that helped improve learning among at-risk students by using older students as tutors, mentors and partners with younger students at more than a dozen schools in five counties.
"So we were very excited about that opportunity and we sought out a school person to manage from the school level as well as the community member who handled the interviewing of the seniors that were selected for the program. So we were very excited," said Mitzi Moore, Principal.
"And we also had some student teachers that we utilize in our building at that time, too. And we also had some community volunteers that we used as substitutes when the high school seniors had obligations after school," said Jacqueline Shirley, PEP School Manager.
Those after-school two-hour sessions each week for twelve weeks involved much more than just mentoring and tutoring.
"We have an intensive enrichment. Now this is not tutoring. We use technology, we use these young folks, we've hired to use their skills. Hands-on activities and one of the peripheral things that happened that's really been good for this program. These young people that we've hired in each school come from the cream of the crop," said Roger Browning, PEP Project Coordinator.
"They didn't teach new material. They enriched on what the classroom teacher was already doing. We used activities such as taking apart test items and analyzing test items. They did hands-on activities to enrich that. And we saw as far as growth in grades, in performance, confidence in the students," said Shirley.
Student achievement scores soared under the program.
And the schools involved ranked among the highest in the state.
But funding from the CREATE and Kellogg Foundations has run out, leaving Three Rivers and the schools searching for other sources.
But organizers remain ready to go as soon as money is found.
"The model is set. We pretty much have retained the same model at each site. It's been so successful that the data has been just really good. So we could going in just a few weeks and get up and going," said Browning.
"So you know we're hoping and trying to get the word out and try to keep our funding because of all our positive results and the data that we've collected," said Shirley.
The program has been used in 16 schools in the five counties.