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STRIDES TOWARDS EXCELLENCE


As well as this weekly connection, mentors and students also participated in three after- school events, including an afternoon of bowling and a trip to the local apple orchard. While these events are important and looked forward to with great anticipation, they are merely one component of a systematic process. The program owes its success to the consistent daily or weekly interactions that occur between mentor and student (See Chart 3 below). Further, as the program entered its second year, mentors were able to carry on the relationship that they had built previously if their student was still at the school.


3


Murray, a fourth r, describes the ct that consistent ationships can have setting.


Collaborative Ownership Perhaps the most important facet of this approach is that it is jointly owned. The fact that it was introduced, organized, and supported by teachers ensured more buy in than a typical idea that might be obtained at a conference by a well meaning principal or division leader. As such, teachers have the flexibility to create a tailored solution to best extract the productive qualities of the COSTS students. Teacher initiative drives the inspiration and creativity to achieve success in the program without the formal restrictions of a “top down” mandated program.


Our staff also worked with homeroom teachers to find out the most effective way to connect with the student (See Success Vignettes below). For instance, an administrator might find a mutually beneficial time to tutor two COSTS students prior to the math end-of-year assessment in order to facilitate study skills and practice. Other teachers might check in with each other to ensure that the student is making progress on homework completion or a behavior chart. By having a shared, collaborative goal set of continued student progress, this project has strengthened our school community.


Spring 2011 Vol. 8 No. 1 Virginia Educational Leadership 23


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