Diplomas Now: A New Approach to Student Achievement - New York News

Diplomas Now: A New Approach to Student Achievement

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It's the question everyone is asking. How do you get young people excited about learning so that they will do well in school? Diplomas Now says they've got an answer and proven results to back it up. Now, they're bringing that learning model to Detroit.

"It's a fresh start. I don't have to think about any expectations that I have to meet except for my own," said student Kyle Lamar.

He will be part of the first class of Detroit Collegiate Prep Academy, a high school unlike any other Detroit public school.

"If I'm looking at this and I'm a mom, I'm saying finally a school that's actually going to give me a call, let me know how my child is doing," said Principal Ricardo Martin. "Having those social-emotional supports in place is what makes it really great."

He handpicked a group of eleven teachers. They're learning a unique education model called Diplomas Now. It couples a rigorous curriculum developed by Johns Hopkins University with a support system of social workers, psychologists and City Year Detroit corps members all working together to prepare students for college and careers.

While the teacher is at the front of the classroom, City Year Detroit corps members will be working with students one-on-one. They're called near peers.

"Our role is to really build relationships with students, find out what they're interested in, find out what motivates them and keep them coming to school," said one woman.

To keep kids in school, you've got to be willing to tackle more than what's happening in the classroom.

"We talk about Johnny, who may be struggling with attendance and how many absences has he had and when are we going out to his house to find out what's going on?" Martin said.

The program's been successful in urban schools all over the country, so you'd think there be a long list of kids waiting to enroll. However, the school is actually looking for more incoming freshman. Part of the problem is that not enough people know about the school, but some parents say they are willing to take a chance on a program they're convinced will help their kids succeed.

"I knew that this had to be a school that was trying to instill and do things that I wanted him to have in his life," said one parent.

"It means a lot to me that someone in the Detroit public school system is willing to help and give a little more," another said.

There are 50 spots still open available to any student going into ninth grade in metro Detroit. For more information, call (313) 267-4066 or visit www.detroitcollegiateprep.org.

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