David Shedd

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David Shedd

Ola High School

Three years ago we began identifying students who were at-risk for not graduating high school with their cohort and developed an informal mentor support system to connect these students with caring adult in our building. Our team would comb through course data, Milestone scores, Lexile, behavior and attendance data to narrow our search as we prepared for "adoption day." We create a baseball trading card with a color picture of the student on the front and schedule, birthday, and other important information on the reverse. All staff members - teachers, counselors, secretaries, administrators - are then invited to adopt a student. The simple act of connecting an adult with a student who struggles in school is a powerful way to change a child's trajectory.

My personal story is with Cameron and when we connected he had already failed eight courses during his first three years at Ola and was certainly not on the path to graduate with his class. We met informally in my office every week or so just to see how he was doing and to ask how I could support him. We would talk about classes, what he was going to do on the weekends and breaks, and what his hopes and dreams were for a future beyond high school. He wanted me to just keep pushing and not let up. I will never forget the day Cameron received his Economics EOC grade and asked his teacher to leave class. He came running into to my office to tell me he made a 79 and he was going to graduate! Then, on a hot May evening, with tears in both our eyes, I had the privilege of handing Cameron his Ola High School diploma.