Making Sure Our Kids Are Succeeding In School
Children succeeding in school is one step in breaking Jackson’s multi-generational poverty cycle. Because you give to United Way we can support programs like Bigs in Schools, site based mentoring from Big Brothers Big Sisters. This program pairs at risk youth with caring adults. Teachers have reported students in this program improve their read proficiency and show advancement in other academic areas. Teachers also report their students have increased their class participation and they have a better attendance record. Rita and Shania’s story is just one example of how the Bigs in School program is working in Jackson.
In 2010, Rita, a somewhat quiet and very hard-working IT Network Analyst at Consumers Energy, decided to make the commitment to become a Big Sister. Shania was a shy 2nd grade Little Sister at McCulloch Academy waiting for an active and involved Big Sister. They found that they had some interests in common in those early years. Shania was a little behind in her reading skills and Rita loved to read. They both enjoyed playing board games and worked on Shania’s math facts by playing Monopoly. They quickly became a Site Based Plus match, so that they could indulge their shared interest in going to the movie theater.
Fast forward to 2015. Rita and Shania celebrated the fifth anniversary of their match in March. Rita has taken early retirement from Consumers. Shania is a 7th grader at the Middle School at Parkside. Rita spends a lot of time at Parkside. She volunteers in some of Shania’s classrooms, and the two of them work on Shania’s academics and attendance. They still enjoy reading and going to movies together. Shania is still a shy young lady in some ways. She and Rita are spending some time this year discussing choices related to friends, school and dating.