In the Student Support Series, we spotlight the great work of YES Prep’s Student Support Counselors (SSCs) and Deans of Students (DoSs) to provide YES Prep students with positive, educational experiences. We spoke with YES Prep Gulfton Deans of Students Ugochi Emenaha and Cintia Arenas about Gulfton’s parent club, Praxeum, and partnership with First & Goal. Read the full series.
Tell us about your supports for students of concern.
UE: We have a parent club for students who are parenting or are pregnant. It’s about 6 girls, and we meet every other Friday. The curriculum used is called Nurturing Parenting, and it is designed to teach high school-age girls skills necessary to be successful parents. We teach them how to do activities with their kids and continue living their life. Two Saturdays a month, we take trips with the parents and kids. For example, we went to the carnival and the pumpkin patch. In December, we raised money so that they could have a photoshoot with their kids. In the spring, we’ll focus on making sure that their grades and absences are on track so they remain successful in school.
Next Saturday, we have a parenting workshop/baby shower. It’s for students who are parents, but it’s also open to the community. We’ll have workshops for CPR awareness and swimming awareness.Carters is donating items, and we’ll have a couple of raffles. Tyrone Smith from First & Goal is our keynote speaker.
What other programs do you offer?
UE: We work with First & Goal, which was founded by a professional football player, Tyrone Smith, who was a student of concern himself when he grew up in Houston. He and his staff work mentor a group of students.
CA: They picked two students to go on a shopping spree with two Texans players.
UE: We also worked on social media awareness with our students after an incident with inappropriate messages occurred. We shared it with all grade levels and talked about how social media isn’t private and becomes important when you’re applying to jobs and more.
CA: One of our SSCs offered an opportunity for parents to attend a session on social media safety as well.
CA: A senior approached the DoS’s asking for an opportunity to lead. The plan was for juniors and seniors to mentor younger students. We got feedback from middle school teachers about what students might benefit from the mentoring. The student took complete ownership and they’ve already met once with their mentees.
Gulfton has something called Praxeum. Can you tell us a little about it?
UE: Praxeum is for students who commit an offense that qualifies them for an expulsion hearing. It can also be used for informal placements as a proactive measure. If a student is placed in Praxeum, they have a Praxeum contract that dictates what they must complete by the time they leave Praxeum. For example, a formal apology, community service, etc.
CA: It gives students a second opportunity rather than having them expelled from school. It’s an opportunity for them to develop skills.
UE: If they’re in Praxeum, I meet with them every day. If the student has academic gaps, I’ll work with them on that. If a student has a gratitude journal as part of their contract, I’ll work on that with them too. The teachers are also meeting with the students– not just for academic support, but also to help rebuild relationships in a positive way.
What other programs do you offer?
CA: We think supporting teachers is incredibly important. We purchased gift cards for the Grade Level Chairs to give to teachers as a thank you. We want to push for teacher recognition as much as for student recognition. Recognizing teachers results in grade level teams that are strong and supportive of one another.
I do want to emphasize that NONE of the things going on at our campus would be possible if we didn’t have a strong collaboration culture within our staff especially admin, GLCs, Student Support team (DoSs, Praxeum staff, SD, SSCs), front office and teachers. We do not take full credit for any of the initiatives and are appreciative of the work people are willing to do with us and each other to make these things happen