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- Mentor Spotlight below
- RSAPP e-Newsletter (Dec. 2011): Check & Connect: Supporting School Succes
- In the News: Program Connects Students to School: Check and Connect Designed to Prevent Kids From Dropping Out
What and Where: Check & Connect is being implemented in elementary, middle, and high schools across every school district in 5 rural counties in southwest Colorado: Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties. This effort is a collaboration between Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners (RSAPP) (an AmeriCorps State Program), the San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Montezuma County's House Bill 1451 Committee, and the local schools and districts. The HB1451 committee allocates funding from a social services grant from the state of Colorado with an emphasis on interagency collaboration to improve youth outcomes.
When: This implementation of Check & Connect began in the 2009-2010 school year with 4 mentors in Montezuma County. Because of the success of that pilot, the program has grown every year, with 10 mentors in 2010-2011 and 14 in 2011-2012.
Outcomes: In 2011-2012, the project had the following positive outcomes on these items that their grant requires them to track:
Ian Lennox and Teresa Jennings have taught in South Korea and worked in outdoor education, but working as Check & Connect mentors for their AmeriCorps assignment has given them a welcome opportunity to work with youth more closely.
Ian works full-time with students at Escalante Middle School in Durango. He has about 30 students on his caseload. Teresa is half-time in Mancos School District, a K-12 school with 400 students. She works with 19 students in grades 6-12.
Both of them have found that "Motivational Interviewing" is a helpful skill for Check & Connect mentors to have, and that cultivating good relationships with teachers and administrators is essential. Teresa observed that middle school students respond well to formal goal-setting and problem-solving, whereas high school students seem to respond better to natural conversations in which those considerations arise. Ian noted the importance of persisting with students, especially at the beginning of the school year—students will eventually respond to your persistent efforts to "connect" with them.
Working with Check & Connect has helped both of them clarify their plans for the future, with Ian planning to pursue a Master's degree in counseling and Teresa a Master's degree in social work. Their own engagement with and enthusiasm for Check & Connect was evident when we spoke with them and we're glad that they've been able to "serve" as Check & Connect mentors through AmeriCorps.
Posted March 5, 2013.