Archive | October 2013

APIE Mentors

Positive Role Models! Heroes! Self-esteem boosters! BFF’s!

These are just a few ways to describe the APIE mentors who work with students throughout Austin ISD.

Unlike the classroom coaching programs at APIE, mentors serve in a non-academic volunteer role. They meet with students during their lunch period and engage in activities such as playing games, drawing, reading, and sharing stories, but primarily engage in conversation. By consistently spending time with these children and listening to them, they build trust and serve as a confidante, problem solver, and sounding board. Mentoring a student can help build self-esteem, increase the likelihood of a child completing school and pursuing post-secondary education, decrease destructive behaviors, and boost academic potential.

APIE mentors meet with their students once a week, usually for 30 minutes at lunch time, throughout the school year. Many of our mentors continue to work with their student as they progress through school; some relationships began as early as 2nd grade and continued through the student’s senior year of high school. In 2012-13, approximately 770 APIE mentors served students in 118 AISD elementary, middle, and high schools. All mentors receive a background check and training. So far in 2013-14, a record 970 volunteers have signed up to mentor through APIE!

School Connections Manager Dawn Lewis and Communication Interns Noah Schubert are working hard to produce a newsletter specifically for mentors. Look for this in the coming months for mentoring tips, best practices, and stories from your fellow mentors!

Why Middle School?

According to Austin ISD’s Department of Research and Evaluation, the most important predictor of overall dropout risk in Austin is failing the 9th grade TAKS (reading or math) or STAAR standardized tests. By supporting struggling middle school students to succeed in these subjects, APIE’s programs help reduce Austin ISD’s dropout rate.

A student’s level of academic achievement in the eighth grade has a significant impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school. Research by Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University concludes that the extent of middle school success is a huge indicator of whether students will “close achievement gaps, graduate from high school, and be prepared for college.”

During their middle school years, it is vital that students receive encouragement and support, since 50% of middle school students suffer from feelings of disengagement. By supporting students during these transitional years, their academic persistence and ultimate career success can be enhanced.

APIE’s programs are aligned with Austin ISD’s curriculum, and Classroom Coaching is intended to help students in the subjects that they find most challenging. Classroom Coaches function as tutors and mentors and build bonds with students as they shape ideas about their academic and professional futures. By ensuring that students are on track to meet college readiness standards during middle school, APIE empowers students to excel in high school, college, and career, thus boosting their chances at an improved economic future.

Candace McCray, Development Intern

Student Learning Styles — VARK Model

Did you know that there are several categories of learning styles? By understanding your student’s learning style, you can figure out which teaching strategies will be most effective when helping them understand and retain new information.

Neil Fleming’s famous VARK model categorizes learners under four different learning styles: visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.

Visual Learners:

These students learn best when lessons use visual images. They like to look at and observe objects and pictures. Do you normally have a picture in mind when you are trying to remember something? This is one characteristic of a visual learner.

Auditory Learners:

Are you a good listener? Auditory learners prefer to have lessons presented in lecture form. The best teaching strategy for these students is to present new information to them out loud…even if that means making up a song.

Reading and Writing Learners:

For some students, reading a textbook is the best way to learn new material. Reading and writing learners aren’t always bookworms, but they do prefer to have information available in a written form. Writers enjoy taking notes and making lists during class. Having handouts available for these students can be very helpful.

Kinesthetic Learners:

Do you prefer a more hands-on approach? You may be a kinesthetic learner. These students are active learners who like to touch objects because they learn by doing.  It’s helpful when they can move around during the lesson.

It can be difficult for teachers to accommodate the learning style of each student in their classrooms. This is why studying outside of class is important, and tutoring can help! APIE’s curriculum incorporates written material, games, auditory exercises, and pictures. Our coaches support teachers by helping students discover the most effective learning strategies.

Candace McCray, Development Intern

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Pledges $625,000

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has pledged $625,000 over the next three years to support Austin Partners in Education’s College Readiness, Classroom Coaching, and Step-Up programs.

We are profoundly grateful for the foundation’s support. In the first year, funding will aid the College Readiness program expansion to Anderson, Eastside Memorial, and Reagan high schools, College Readiness curriculum development, and the Middle School Reading Classroom Coaching expansion to Martin and Covington middle schools.