For some students, making the transition from middle to high school is no problem while others struggle just to keep up.
Because of the pressures teenagers face during the transition, the Cabarrus County Education Foundation has awarded a mini-grant to Hickory Ridge Middle School to help at-risk students. The STARS (Successful Transition For At-Risk Students) program serves 50 to 80 middle school students.
Guidance counselors at Hickory Ridge High and Middle schools identified eighth-graders who would benefit from the program based on their academics, attendance and/or discipline issues. Those students meet with a junior or senior from the high school.
“Mentors/mentees meet on a monthly basis to reinforce and teach life skills needed to achieve in school and beyond,” said Rachel Wilkes, executive director of Cabarrus County Education Foundation. “This program also includes a summer transition camp where rising ninth-graders will spend time over the summer familiarizing themselves with the high school setting, procedures and policies.”
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Community members are also welcome to become mentors, Wilkes said.
Wilkes, originally from South Carolina, moved to Cabarrus County after graduate school during the summer of 2012.
“I had heard that this area was welcoming and supportive of various nonprofit organizations, and since it was my area of focus, I decided to explore the opportunities,” she said. “The foundation was founded in 2001, but was solely run by a governing board up until 2014. The board of directors were really wanting to make more of an impact, so they decided that hiring some sort of leadership would eventually bring the organization to a point where it could make its programs self-sustainable and more accurately meet that needs of Cabarrus County Schools, its teachers and its students.”
The Classroom Mini-Grant Program was started in 2012; teachers in Cabarrus County Schools can submit ideas during the fall school term for projects they want to implement within the classroom.
“We have a grants committee that sits down to vet each application, and then we award the monies for each selected project in November of each year,” Wilkes said. “We were able to expand our project amount by 39 percent for the 2014-15 school year and reach over 13,000 students.”
Linda Doherty is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Linda? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the mini-grant program and The Cabarrus County Education Foundation, visit www.cabarruscountyeducationfoundation.org or contact Rachel Wilkes at 704-262-6246 or Rachel.email@example.com.