Over the last 3 years we have launched initiatives to assure that our students are ready to tackle a changing world and a global economy. Active-learning and student-focused engagement will help us improve student outcomes, but we also know that learning cannot happen without recognizing the social and emotional needs of every child.
To this end, we are partnering with CASEL, placing a focus on building relationships with our students and have also implemented Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a proactive approach to creating evidence-based strategies that will create supports or systems that give school personnel the capacity to use effective interventions to enhance academic and social behavior in all students.
In addition, two years ago we added Project M.A.L.E.S. (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) to our district portfolio of programs. Project M.A.L.E.S. was created at the University of Texas at Austin and piloted in EPISD and two other Texas school districts, with partners in 13 institutions of higher learning (including the El Paso Community College). The program intends to instill college-bound behavior among Latino males at the middle-school and high-school levels.
Through Project M.A.L.E.S., about 1,000 students in our 11 high schools and 17 middle schools were identified to participate. They were paired with an EPISD adult mentor whose focus is on building a strong relationship with the student so that they can have a positive adult connection at school.
Mentors are instructed to establish a strong social and emotional connection with the students. Once that connection is made, and through their middle- and high-school careers, students will be made aware of college-readiness opportunities by their mentors.
Campuses will structure these mentor-mentee relationships as they best fit their needs and communities. In the end, however, the goal of this program is to provide the emotional support that some students need to make the transition from public school to college.
I’m sure you will agree that our role as educators goes beyond the classroom. Project M.A.L.E.S. is one of the initiatives we are implementing to make sure that we fulfill that role.
Have a great Fourth of July holiday and thank you for all you do for our kids!