LAKEVILLE, IN. - LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School principal Nate McKeand was looking for an opportunity to improve the graduation rate for the Lakeville School that hosts kids in grades seven through 12.
So, with the help of a couple of teachers, and a few others, McKeand gave what the school calls "Success Hour" a try. McKeand says that he hasn't dove into the data quite yet, but feels that Success Hour has been just that, a success.
"So the 2018-19 year, we kind of tried it out," said McKeand of the Success Hour though process. "The idea was that we noticed that we had a lot of kids that were failing classes. One of our goals as a school is to improve our graduation rate. As kids work toward graduation, they have to accumulate credits. If they are not turning in homework, they are failing classes. If they are failing classes, they are not getting those credits. And if they are not getting those credits, they are falling behind and they have the potential of not graduating. So the idea of Success Hour is giving kids a structured place, a structured time, and some support by having a staff member available to them. Depending on a kids' situation, they may not have some things at home. That impacts kids. So, we wanted to have structured place and time available to them."
According to McKeand, there are two teachers that help the kids that attend Success Hour.
"We have one teacher for seventh, eighth, and ninth grade," said McKeand. "And we have one teacher for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Cassie Rossman does seventh, eighth, and ninth. Meredith Richer does 10, 11, and 12."
Success Hour runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of a given week. "It is not every week, but probably a total of 33 days of each semester," explained McKeand. "It runs from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Kids can come on their own, they don't have to sign up for it. If they feel like they are falling behind on something, then that kid is welcome to come and get the help. We do have some kids that are on our radar and we try to promote Success Hour to them. We don't mandate it, but we highly recommend to the kids and to the parents."
There are several ways a student can get some extra help during Success Hour. "We ask teachers to refer kids, counselors are contacting parent, and I contact parents. It is something that we try to make known when kids have a need," said McKeand. "We have kids that are religious and we have kids that ramp up their attendance when we closer to the end of the nine weeks or the semester. It might not be used as much as I would like for it to be used, but some students it is used quite a bit."
According to McKeand, the biggest reason kids fail courses is they don't do homework. He wants to help get them to the ultimate goal.
"So, if we can get over the hump of kids turning in their homework that's half the battle," said McKeand. "The kids that have taken advantage of Success Hour, I've seen those kids pass classes because of Success Hour. I don't have data, but talking with those kids, teachers, and parents, they are passing classes that they would not have passed a particular class had they not gone to Success Hour. Kids, for the most part want to learn. There are so many road blocks in front of kids, whether it's they struggle concentrating or with understanding the material, so now you have an individual there during Success Hour that can help them and they can ask questions. If given the right environment they can succeed and that is what we are trying to provide."
For some students, transportation after school hours can be a problem. But according to McKeand, the school corporation was able to work out a few bugs.
"One of the biggest hurdles was that we knew that families would have is transportation," explained McKeand. "Families struggle, so at the end of the school day, kids can take buses home. But, if kids stay after school for an extra hour, that requires someone to come and get them. I appreciated (Union-North United School Corporation Superintendent) Mitch (Mawhorter) on this one and was able to work with (Director of Facilities) Zac (Moore) and we were able to get a bus that runs the elementary route and our route. The driver finishes his route and then comes over at 4:30 to get the Success Hour kids and we take them down to the LaPaz area and the Lakeville area and we have a few drops in town. We don't go door-to-door, but we are hoping to expand it to the south towards Plymouth."
McKeand says he would also like to be able to extend it to the South Bend border, "to get some of the out of district kids to make Success Hour accessible to those kids, as well. Those are things that parents and kids have asked us about. So I'd love to be able to expand the area a little more. The transportation piece is what has even made it possible. A lot of people wouldn't participate in Success Hour if we didn't have transportation."
Success Hour Dates Are As Follows:
January = 21,22,23,28,29,30
February = 4,5,6,25,26,27
March = 3,4,5,24,25,26
April = 14,15,16,21,22,23, 28, 29, 30
May = 5,6,7,12,13,14