Does it take a village to raise a child? To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of "a village" is. In her book It Takes A Village, Hillary Clinton says, "Every child needs a champion." For the last fourteen years at Saint Louis Park High School, every ninth grader has had multiple champions, even those whose home lives were less than ideal.
Almost half (and rising) of Saint Louis Park High School's ninth-graders were failing at least one class. Lacking the funding to simply throw money at the problem, counselor Angela Jerabek decided that a team of teachers, social workers, counselors, and administration would "have the back" of every ninth grader, meeting with and about each one continually, all year long. The result?
Since the program started in 1998, the number of students in advanced classes has skyrocketed. Then, 44 percent of ninth-graders were failing one or more classes; last year, that fell to 20 percent. Cigarette use was cut in half among ninth-grade boys...It's a simple premise: more adults reaching out to a student to prevent them from slipping into anonymity, failing class and dropping out. "No student will be able to get by unnoticed," Jerabek said. ("Intense focus on 9th-graders pays off big in St. Louis Park," Star Tribune, December 23, 2011)The school is now closed to open enrollment and has a waiting list. The program is being piloted nationally by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute under the name Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR).
When it comes to raising kids, no school or government program can replace the loving support from a team of parents, extended family, friends, a church home, and youth groups. Saint Louis Park High School's experience has confirmed that kids can overcome adversity with a group of caring adults in their corner.