Title

Empowering At-Risk Students Through Community, Curriculum & Coaching

Location

Verelst

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

Youth who are experiencing high poverty, homelessness or foster care frequently feel—and often rightfully so—unheard. Empowering students at high risk of succumbing to peer pressure, academic barriers and financial hardships to find their voice and self-advocate is key in helping them positively navigate education and life. Evidence- and trauma-informed coaching programs and curriculum deliver a proven methodology that improves the outcomes and education success of at-risk teens. Using a model of nondirective counseling via executive-level certified life coaching and ongoing advocacy, in collaboration with best practice models and community leaders, provide an effective means to address, through care, curriculum and coaching, the issues and barriers faced by at-risk youth. Outcomes for students who participate in a 12-week transformational coaching process hit most if not all Strand II skills: self-reliance; self-advocacy; critical thinking; education planning and career exploration; improved leadership skills; safe and sustainable relationships; community involvement; peer-to-peer mentoring; and academic advisement.

Brief Program Description

  1. Youth experiencing high poverty, homelessness or foster care frequently feel—often rightfully so—unheard. Empowering students at high risk of succumbing to peer pressure, academic barriers and financial hardships to find their voice and self-advocate is key for them to successfully navigate education and life. Nondirective counseling via executive-level certified life coaching and ongoing advocacy, in collaboration with best practice models and community leaders, provide a powerful means to address, through community, curriculum and coaching, the issues and barriers faced by at-risk youth.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to: 1) Identify the benefits of coaching and nondirective counseling; 2) Professionally integrate creative coaching strategies to empower students; 3) Take to their community a best practices model on collaboration for collective impact—a human investment in the lives of students and economic success.

Summary

Transformational coaching empowers students who, through no fault of their own, are held back at the starting gate, limiting their potential, adding to the cyclical nature of poverty and increasing the demands on strained social services. Models for true student success create community-based solutions with measurable results by collaborating to achieve collective impact. Through life coaching, young adults are encouraged to identify their desires, passions and talents, while also helping them to understand their past and frame the future they want, resulting in the student developing a self-driven education and life plan. Education and life plans empower students to graduate high school, encourages a post-secondary education, and connects them to internships, apprenticeships and community involvement. Outcomes include but are not limited to: 1) improved critical thinking 2) improved attendance and better grades 3) improved self esteem 4) reduced anger 5) school progress and graduation achievement. Less than 5% of students who are homeless, in foster care or from families in high poverty complete secondary or access and complete postsecondary. Coaching is a human investment aiming to improve their success. Additionally, research shows, according to Maura McInerney, attorney at the Education Law Center, a student who drops out of high school today is eight times more likely to be incarcerated and 40 times more likely to be on public assistance. The annual cost to society, including incarceration, for this drop out is $1.5M. Creating a sense of self-worth and community through a method of coaching helps students complete self-directed goals, their education and gain access to postsecondary. For the community-at-large, collaboration of businesses, policy makers, school districts, higher education institutions and social agencies raises awareness and provides the wraparound services students need to be successful. A best practices model will be highlighted that clearly shows it’s “not that complicated” to listen to the voice of students and create a community-based solution toward overall success.

Evidence

The proposed solution is independently evaluated by university research students using a model created by Clark Atlanta University under the direction of Dr. Rhonda Franklin. Perhaps the most significant finding is: “On average, youth interviewed agreed assignments improved their public speaking, writing skills, critical thinking and financial planning skills…” “Some [participants] were surprised as to what was inside them. They had no prior experience with getting to know themselves and hearing their own voice. Participants would recommend the program to their peers because of the opportunities to look at their choices, future and plan,” says Dr. Teah Moore, Interim Chair/Clinical and Field Experiences, Fort Valley State University. Neuroscience Research from the Jim Casey Foundation underscores the need for and benefit from a program model such as ours. Five Key Recommendations for The Adolescent Brain were identified as necessary for a young person to transition successfully from foster care. This solutions programming and ongoing advocacy model directly achieves three of the five, and indirectly achieves the other two in concert with our community partners. The five recommendations are: 1) provide positive youth development; 2) connect youth with caring adults and ongoing advocacy; 3) engage youth in their own planning and decision making for their life; 4) improve well-being and emotional security; 5) extend foster care developmentally to age 21. Most exciting about this research is that it proves scientifically that “It is Not Too Late” to help a teen –regardless of circumstances—positively transform their actions and future. Overall Program Summary and Evaluations for High School Student Coaching [The coaching program] has been demonstrated to have immediate impact on the participants in the program. It is clear that the role of peers, advocates, and coaches in the lives of the participants is essential to the success of the participants while in the program. The repetitive themes of the program have been caring, sense connection, being heard, not alone, self-examination. For the participants, being asked about their dreams, passions, and visions expressed to them that someone actually cared about them. Most often at-risk youth are told about themselves and may rarely have someone ask them about them. They are labeled versus labeling themselves. It should be noted that one of the responses to the assessment is that each week they were asked how they are doing. During the end of program, when asked was there anything you would like to add that was not asked about, a participant stated, “yes you forget to ask us how we were doing.” This got a response from the others who stated “yeah you didn’t’ ask.” The evaluator smartly asked, “How are you doing?” The responses heard were, “fine”, “we’re doing fine” and “fine thank you for asking”. Asking about them gives them a voice; they get to be heard by adults. One can imagine that most of the day the participants spend their day in a classroom with a teacher who does much of the talking. They have little input in what they learn and how they learn it. While the coaches and advocates provide them the opportunity to share their stories and share of themselves. In addition, they have the option not to share or not to talk if they choose so. As one participant stated, they could pass, while another stated that they can talk when it is comfortable for them to talk. This is powerful for they often express that the safety in the environment is that they are not judged and the coaches do not allow others to judge them. This safety provides what Carl Rogers would describe as unconditional positive regard. The coaches are expressing that what you say matters and you matter. They are allowing the participant to be in an environment that is non-judgmental and also can be non-directive. The participant is allowed to be the expert on themselves. Pre and Post Survey, Midterm Assessments, and Focus Group Summary Pre and Post Surveys As indicated in the participant program evaluations a safe environment is created during the sessions which allow participants to be themselves and thus view their true selves. When others accept them for who they are; they may be more likely to accept themselves. Participant post surveys may more likely convey true self because of the safe environment that promotes the sharing of stories, self, and feelings. There were some changes in knowledge or planning as indicated by their pre and post surveys. For example, one participant did not know where they were going to live upon exiting foster care. While, in the post survey the participant indicated that they would attend college and live on campus. Another noted item response concerned knowing the SAT and ACT. A number of participants indicated they did not know the details or schedules of these exams. This changed among the participants in the post surveys. Participants indicated that they knew what the tests required and fully prepared. A large number of youth residing in foster care continue to mark that they plan to exit foster care and live on campus or “going it on their own.”…It is evident the same participants have some understanding or grasped the support. They have indicated that they do plan to sign themselves back into foster care. Midterm Assessments The Midterm assessment questions were two parts. The questions were asked a yes or no question but were followed by a request to explain their answer. The Midterm assessments provided a number of themes that demonstrated some shifts in attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and knowledge. The midterm assessments examined the participants: 1. Perceptions as to the relevancy of the assignments, 2. The safety of the environment in terms of psychological, emotional, and intellectual safety, 3. Development or encouragement of dreams, passions, and vision, 4. Sense of extended community with peers, advocates, and coaches. For this portion of the report the responses were put into themes and some quotes are provided as well. Relevancy of Assignments Most participants answered yes in this area and comments indicated that the assignments were worthwhile because they had relate ability to the participants life situations, they provided new knowledge, gave opportunity for self-examination, opportunity to examine life issues and current problems, and lastly provision of structure to the program. Some comments of the participants included, “the assignments were relevant because in life we will always have things to do”; “the assignments opened my eyes”; “the assignments were helpful in looking at your life and problems”; “they were relevant because Sam Bracken went through things similar to my life.” In the midterm assessment most participants viewed the amount of class work and homework as an essential and relevant piece to the program in helping them with their life and goals. They found the homework to be relevant. Safety of Environment Participants indicated that the environment was safe as evidenced by their ability to speak their minds, share their opinions without being judged. They were able to talk about their “rough life”. They further stated that the environment provided a confidential forum as one participant summarily stated that the” anything that they have shared, they have not heard it again.” The participants indicated that emotional safety was present because they were able to express their feelings and the “coaches did not allow others to judge” and “the coaches made others be quiet when someone was speaking”. This comment indicates that the participant recognized that respect was a major aspect of the environment and for this participant being heard was important. One participant shared that when they initially came to the program that they were shy. They expressed they felt more comfortable talking about themselves later in the program.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Darryl B. Holloman holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from Georgia State University. He currently serves as Dean of Students at Georgia State University. He has worked in student and academic affairs for over 17 years. Dr. Holloman's research agenda examines how race, social-class, motivating factors (parents, community, and schooling) and cultural capital influence the entry and persistence of college students within post secondary settings.

Michael Daly, President of The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative (ODB) As ODB inaugural Board Chair, Michael Daly led and developed a strategic plan that focused on achieving program results and positive impact for the youth ODB serves. In three short years, those goals have been achieved. In addition, he framed the approach for the organization to be a part of the greater solution to the issues and crisis that face today's youth in foster care and homeless teens. ODB's culture and philosophy is to collaborate, connect and convene with those who can make a positive and measurable impact. Daly identified key leaders throughout the state that he felt confident if convened could create the opportunities and solutions for the critical issues at hand. The results to date show that his approach is working as ODB is now honored to be part of a team that includes those key leaders and partners focused on improving the outcomes and education success of Georgia’s disconnected teens.

Diana Black, Vice President of The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative (ODB) Diana Black committed herself to nonprofit work after life-changing employment at one of the country’s leading charities where she witnessed an organization serve and care for thousands of patients and their families at the most critical and difficult time of life—all the while offering hope. The empathy and commitment to best practices she internalized during that time she now shares with our nation’s most vulnerable young adults—high school and undergraduate college students who experience homelessness, foster care or high poverty—helping empower them to successfully complete their education and lead productive, fulfilling lives. Under her co-leadership ODB met all of its three-year strategic goals, graduated 390 teens from its afterschool program and in 2014 received the MLK Jr Community Service Award. Black holds a computer science degree from Indiana University.

Conference Presentations and Seminars 2013-2014

  • National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Conference, November 2013 - Improving the Outcomes and Education Success of Homeless Teens: Creating Community Partnerships and Achieving Collective Impact (co-presenter)
  • National Pathways to Adulthood Conference, August 2013– Improving the Outcomes and Education Success of Homeless Teens: Creating Community Partnerships and Achieving Collective Impact (co-presenter)
  • College Connections for Student Success (University System of GA College Access Challenge Grant) Conference: A Focus on Foster, Homeless and Disconnected Youth, February 2014 - Creating Community Partnerships and Achieving Collective Impact (co-presenter)

Boards and Committees 2013-2014

  • Orange Duffel Bag Initiative - Board Member
  • Georgia Youth Opportunities Initiative (GYOI) - Education Committee Member
  • Strategic Team to Empower Postsecondary Success (STEPS) - Committee Member
  • USG Board of Regents College Access Challenge Grant - Leadership Team
  • EMBARK - Higher Ed Team network of postsecondary support for at-risk teens - Leadership Team
  • College Access Conference, February 18 & 19, 2014 - Planning Committee
  • GA Alliance Boys & Girls Club, 2013 & 2014 Statewide Teen Summit – Planning Committee

Keyword Descriptors

Empowering Students, Coaching, Nondirective Counseling, Best Practices

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 10:15 AM

End Date

3-3-2015 11:30 AM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 3rd, 10:15 AM Mar 3rd, 11:30 AM

Empowering At-Risk Students Through Community, Curriculum & Coaching

Verelst

  1. Youth experiencing high poverty, homelessness or foster care frequently feel—often rightfully so—unheard. Empowering students at high risk of succumbing to peer pressure, academic barriers and financial hardships to find their voice and self-advocate is key for them to successfully navigate education and life. Nondirective counseling via executive-level certified life coaching and ongoing advocacy, in collaboration with best practice models and community leaders, provide a powerful means to address, through community, curriculum and coaching, the issues and barriers faced by at-risk youth.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to: 1) Identify the benefits of coaching and nondirective counseling; 2) Professionally integrate creative coaching strategies to empower students; 3) Take to their community a best practices model on collaboration for collective impact—a human investment in the lives of students and economic success.