By Luis Fuentes, St. Nicks Alliance Dep. Dir. Teen Services
When school year 2015 began, St. Nicks Alliance’s goal was to evaluate, improve, and grow their work with high schools. They introduced a transformational coach as the primary person of support for each approach. For instance there is St. Nicks Alliance’s “Learning to Work” (LTW) initiative at Bushwick Community High School, which focuses on job and post-secondary readiness. The staff works to place students in career internships and assists them to enroll in college, while a transformational coach supports students experiencing the most challenges.
In addition, St. Nicks Alliance leveraged resources to add an attendance support person and increased attendance intervention and incentives at this school. This school’s aspect as a transfer school that serves over-aged and under-credited students pronounced the need for attendance to be a focal concern. This past spring LTW students maintained an above average attendance while as a whole school attendance was significantly lower.
Then there is St. Nicks Alliance’s operation of the Community School at The Green School for the past two years. The recent school year was a fulfilling one for the St. Nicks Community School and Green School staff. They successfully led the charge in improving the school culture and increasing family involvement. All year attendance has been above average possibly resulting from the students’ deeper attachment to the school. Plus parent engagement significantly increased compared to past years thanks to the support of strong youth developers and transformational coaches.
Work, Learn, and Grow (WLG), a spinoff of The Department of Youth and Community Development’s (DYCD) Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), came into being at the start of the 2015 school year. St. Nicks Alliance was given one of the WLG grants due to their 15 years of SYEP operation. St. Nicks Alliance placed 100 students in internships and service learning projects. Subsequently, DYCD asked St. Nicks Alliance to increase the allotment by 21 students. Regarding SYEP, St. Nicks Alliance is serving 1000 students this summer, an increase of 250 students from the summer of 2015. This includes more than doubling the hardest to serve Vulnerable Youth from 114 to 250.
At Enterprise Business and Technology High School (EBT) St. Nicks Alliance has managed an Attendance Improvement/Dropout Prevention Initiative (AIDP) for over 15 years. Bringing a new emphasis on using data to inform interventions, the attendance improvement counselor was charged with managing a caseload of 30 students while collecting relevant data to measure student growth. The data showed when students met with their counselor regularly there was a direct correlation in their attendance and academic performance. This service has since increased by 50% under this initiative.
Through evaluating and examining the data outcomes paired with the introduction of transformational coaches has provided St. Nicks Alliance an enhanced way forward. In addition, St. Nicks Alliance has brought on a Clinical Supervisor to support the transformational coaches and the organization has added the research based Social Emotional Learning curriculum One Circle Foundation; and will begin training staff in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention in Schools (TSI-S). As icing on the cake, St. Nicks Alliance was just awarded a DYCD grant to run Compass afterschool program at Progress High School this coming year. The upcoming school year is sure to be an exciting one for St. Nicks Alliance High School Programs.