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GRPS: Grade School to Grad School

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A renewed call to action today from the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Superintendent.  A relatively new initiative seeks additional community volunteers to help bridge the gap in the academic outcomes for African American males. 

“So we are looking for not just your typical tutor or mentor, we really want accountability partners, someone who can relate to our kids and just help them with the process of growing up.”

It’s a new call for more of what GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall-Neal calls “accountability partners”.  The superintendent’s initiative is called “Grade school to Grad school.”  A program that debuted earlier this year that aims to address the gaps in academic outcomes, most specifically for African American males. Weatherall-Neal says data from the district’s 2012-2013 school year revealed 38 percent of African American males were suspended from the district one or more times (double the district average) and 32 percent were chronically absent.

“We know that children will come to school when we have people that are really holding them accountable, helping them along the way, just helping to remove those barriers.  so what our accountability partners are doing is just calling to check, are you ok? I’ll see you at school on a certain day.  We know that it is relationships that will help remove some of those barriers.”

Superintendent Weatherall-Neal says they currently have just over 60 partners, but would like more than 200.   The goal is to keep students interested and motivated to go beyond grade school and on to college, but some need that extra support that may be lacking.

“What is so important, these students are wonderful assets to this community.  And for some students it may take more support, more intervention, more wrap around services, but every child is important and we intend to not lose one student here in GRPS.”

The Superintendent says you can call her office at 616-819 219 to volunteer.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.