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Final Project Paper

SWAG- Students Wanting Adult Guidance

By: Carrie Musci, Claire Rixie, Molly Barnell, Ashley Hrach, & Paige Garrison

Educational Tensions
One of the most prevalent tensions that we have witnessed in our classrooms is a lack of
support that students have in their home lives. When talking to our teachers, they continually
address the issue of getting adult guardians to get involved in their childs schoolwork and
learning. The problem is, while student success largely relies on factors like study habits, school
attendance, test-taking abilities and more, research is showing that parental involvement also has
a large impact on student achievement in the classroom (Dreambox Learning). Furthermore,
when looking closer the community that our schools and students come from, we have noticed
one common factor that we believe plays a role in home support. That is, each of our schools
communities are located in areas with lower income rates. Through further investigation, we
have found a strong correlation between family income and home support. Students whose
families are living in households with incomes above the poverty line are much more likely to
have parents or adult guardians who are actively engaged in schoolwork and activities than
students who come from families living at or below the poverty line. As a result, students
growing up in poverty are less likely to perform as well academically as those who do not come
from household dealing with poverty. Its like a ripple effect. Students whose home support is
dealing with issues related to poverty are less likely to have a strong home support, which in turn
affects them emotional, socially, and academically. In opposition to that, students who have
home support are 2% more likely to achieve academically and enjoy learning. In order to try and
break the gap between those who dont have a strong home support and those who do, we have
created a curriculum that involves a mentoring program. The reason we decided to focus on
providing students with mentors is because of all the positive outcomes they bring. According to
the NEA (National Education Association), students who have adult support in their schooling
are more likely: earn higher grades and test scores, have more confidence and self-worth, have
stronger social skills, adapt better to school, attend school regularly, show improved behavior,
graduate, and move on to higher education. Overall, students who have positive role models in
their lives have better experiences as a whole.

Curriculum that Addresses Tensions
The purpose of our curriculum is to find adults who are committed for a year to building
long-term relationships with youth and being a positive role model in their lives. Weve created
a mentor program based on long lasting, supportive, authentic relationship to help students
achieve their highest potential socially, emotionally, and academically. We are here because the
lack of support or strong adult relationships in a childs life impacts their school performance.
Students need strong role models in their lives because of all the positive outcomes they provide.
Our mentor program SWAG (Students Wanting Adult Guidance) is aimed at students
who struggle academically in school as well as have lack of support at home. We want adults to
be involved in the mentor position of SWAG that are 18 years or older, leaders in the
community, and those wanting to make a difference in a childs life. Adults must commit to a
year long contract and attend training sessions, meet and greet mixers, and friday event
sessions. We are looking for caring, stable, reliable, patient, tolerant leaders who have good
listening skills to be our mentors. Overall, we are looking for quality over quantity. In order to
become a part of SWAG, adults must complete an application entailing specifics of why you
want to be involved and how you will help your mentor in all domains. A background check is
required as well as references to be considered. Once the application is approved, an interview is
required. This is an in depth explanation and discussion of what is expected of all mentors. As
far as the members who attend the meeting, there are 2 members of SWAG, teachers, and an
administrator or principal. After becoming accepted into the program, there will be 6 mandatory
training sessions that focus on introductions, safety, past mentor experiences, guest speakers, and
school psychologists. We will conduct 3 mandatory mixers for the mentors and students to be
introduced. This will let the mentors and students create authentic relationships that will fall into
place leading to the mutual selection of one another. Then we will have a fourth mixer inviting
the parents to meet their childs mentor and sign off the consent of the program. The mentor and
student will be required to spend at least 60 hours per year documented as well as meeting every
Friday at the school for 1-2 hours to assist in tutoring as well as skill building and team building
workshops. There will be monthly trips and experiences that contribute to the 60 hours that the
students might not typically get to participate in including trips to the zoo, park, concerts,
baseball games, and many more fun and exciting activities.
Overall, the goal is to build positive, authentic long-lasting relationships that will be the
students support system in and out of school. Students will be able to gain confidence as well as
develop new life skills. Mentors can help students develop life-management skills, such as
decision making, values clarification, and long-term planning. A relationship with a supportive
person is the most important factor in a young persons personal growth. Students will be able to
gain a sense of self-worth when they recognize that a caring adult other than their parent is
willing to invest time and energy with them.

Being a future educator gives many experiences working with students and different
school settings. This semester we were given the opportunity to work in an urban school setting.
Some of the experiences that we have witnessed are very unique to the urban settings that the
schools are in. In one of our schools we have had some experience with a specific young man
that had a lack of adult support in his life that really showed in his schoolwork and behavior.
This young man is in the first grade and has two brothers and a mother, but no father figure that
we are aware of. Their family is currently homeless, which makes it hard to get in contact with
the mother. There is about a month left of school and the teacher has never been able to meet
with the mother or even get responses from her. He was our inspiration for SWAG and why we
realized that students like him could do so much better with some guidance when they do not or
cannot have it all the time from the current adults in their lives.
This particular student receives tutoring and goes down to the resource room for a
majority of the school day. He receives tier two intervention and is currently under observation
to be identified with a cognitive delay. We have yet to see him complete or even bring back
homework to class, he struggles to get work done individually in the classroom, and is often
getting his card flipped for various behavior reasons. During class one day he had his card
flipped by the intervention specialist for disrupting other students from their work. When we
received this note back in the class we had asked him what happened. He laughed and said my
cards flipped. We asked him if this was a good thing, and he said it was. He did not care at all
that this happened and found it funny that the teachers were mad. He may have been seeking
attention, but regardless this should not be happening. It was situations like this that happened
that made us think that if there was someone to hold him responsible for this maybe it would not
happen or not as frequently. That is why we created SWAG; we want the students who do not
have an adult in their lives to hold them responsible or even talk to, to just have someone and a
true relationship with them.
The SWAG program is important because the mentor and student both get so much out of
it. The student will gain advances in all of the three domains: Social, Emotional, and Academic.
One example is the better engagement in school. The student will have this positive role model
who puts emphasis on school and its importance. The more engagement the student has in
school, the better their grades will become. Teachers will be able to see this advance and the
student will be able to see the difference in their own actions. This academic performance
improvement will be is measured through teacher observations, as well as we will be able to see
the amount of turned in assignments grow and the grades increase. Aside from better academic
performance, the student will also have improved behavior. Having the strong, positive role
model will give the child someone to imitate and look up to. This means the mentor should be
an extremely, appropriate choice with a good head on their shoulders. We do not want the
mentor to show the child actions that may be inappropriate. A large part of the improved
behavior is having more self-awareness and self-control. The mentor will model these traits, but
we will also have many different Friday programs that cover different aspects including these.
Some other traits we want the students to get along the way are accountability and responsibility.
The Friday programs will help us cover these topics in detail, but throughout their time in
SWAG, student should be learning and practicing good character. If this is not true, the mentors
need to be the loving, but stern adult who will tell them what needs to be done. A mentor should
not be just a friend, but an adult that will show them the way. Along with this positive role
model, the children will also gain a brighter future. Seeing this mentor who graduated high
school, possibly college, and has a good job will influence the goals the child sets for
themselves. We want the children to work through adversity and make it out a better version of
themselves. We want them to get their education and attain a good job. This job as a mentor is
not just all about the child and giving them all we can. Sure, we need to do as much as we can
for the children, but the mentor themselves will also gain so much from this experience. The
close relationship between the mentor and the student will give the adult perspective on a
different way of life that will add richness to their own lives. The intrinsic motivation and
satisfaction will provide the mentor with happiness as well. While learning about different
community aspects in schools, one quote stuck with us that really embraces the way SWAG
thinks about students and relationship-based learning. Poetter said, What if we were open to
attending to and dealing with the real issues of living and learning today as we lived and
learned in schools with students (Poetter 68). We want SWAG to bring the real issues of life
into the school system to provide the student with the most opportunities that we can. Parents
want the best for their children, but this is sometimes a very difficult need to meet. Life gets in
the way and other parts of it must be met in order to keep on the daily routine. SWAG will meet
the needs that have not been met for each student who really needs it.
Concept Map
(See Attachment)

One of the most important aspects of this whole curriculum is its effectiveness. Though
our curriculum encourages support of the student though in school Friday programs, monthly
field trips, required outside hours, this does not necessarily prove the effectiveness of this
program. We have decided that our assessment would look at multiple aspects.
First, we would look at the students academic progress and growth. We will take the
students academic performance from the previous year, and compare it to the year with the
mentor. We would also include missing homework assignments from the year before versus
missing homework assignments for the year with the mentor.
The next area of assessment is social and emotional growth. The program would look at
the students problem behaviors for the previous year and compare it to the year with the mentor.
As mentioned in our curriculum, a teacher refers a student for a specific behavior or issue; this
would be the behavior we compare from the two years. For example, if a student is referred to
the program by a teacher because he or she exhibits behaviors in the classroom that require them
to be sent to the office, we would compare the numbers of office referrals from the year without
a mentor to the year with a mentor.
Lastly, we would have surveys for both the parents and teachers. This survey would
occur multiple times throughout the year the student has with the mentor. It would help us gage
the effectiveness of the program and the specific mentor. There would also be a section for
specific feedback from the parents and teachers. We hope that these three components of
assessment would give us feedback about the effectiveness of our program and feedback for
future improvement.