Perhaps noone gets it, but foster care and academic achievement seem to be mutually exclusive worlds. In the midst of rebranding our academic achievement system, numerous encounters with students and educators have made it obvious to us that the one ingredient missing from academic 'standards' debates is - relationships. Programs are designed to help schools raise their global achievement based upon norms which are defined by - academicians.
Rhonda recently shared how she was able to overcome the neglect of her (and her sister's) foster parents as pertaining to academic achievement. Realizing that she was not going to receive any assistance at home with her school work, she sought out participation in one of the Project START 2 Achieve teams at her small high school in Iowa. Over time her academic coach empowered her to reach for higher levels and realize her full potential. Dialogue began to open up with teachers and classmates who grew sensitive to the world of apathy she struggled with at home. Rhonda's coach saw a bright, energetic student who wanted more out of life and offered more to those around her as she began to blossom.
In a letter to her former academic coach, Rhonda wrote of her accomplishments as a freshman in college where she studies through the assitance of scholarships and grants to become a high school counselor. She went on to plead for assistance for her younger sister who enters high school next year in much the same frame of mind which she carried into the same school - hopelessness. Her conclusion - "Without the relationships and support found through START she would have never graduated and found a brighter future."
START 2 Achieve will continue to build on the cornerstone of learning for everyone - meaningful relationships. We don't consider our participants miracles, but rather the obvious outcome of caring coaches connecting with struggling students - whatever the cause of their individual struggles. We appreciate the support so many people have offered and eagerly await the new delivery system we have worked on for years.