By Mayara Sanches
Grand Ledge Gazette Reporter
GRAND LEDGE — Grand Ledge School Board members agreed with the high school’s intervention board to try to expand the Grand Ledge Public Schools‘ help-room program to allow more students to succeed.
After a presentation from the intervention board at the school board work meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 10, both parties decided on expanding the program that already sees more than 1,000 students in each help-room per semester.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for students who are struggling to be able to go to a special room where they’ll be able to get specific help,” said Brian Metcalf, the Grand Ledge superintendent. “Obviously we’re seeing the failure rates decrease and student learning increase, which is really what we are all about.”
The subjects offered in help-rooms are: social studies, science, math and English. Metcalf and the other school board members saw the rates of improvement in the presentation.
In the Math Intervention Center Algebra 1A bootcamp, the failure rate dropped from 20 students to eight. In the Science Intervention Center, the failure cut from 57 to 30 students.
Keeping their doors open and being available during many hours of the day was an important factor in the growth of the program, said Science Intervention teacher Melissa Mazzola.
“It’s really just spread because of students want and need for it, so it’s just continued to grow because it’s been successful with the students,” Mazzola said.
The help-rooms open at 7:45 a.m., remain open throughout lunch, and close at 4 p.m. during school days.
“The students are looking for that relationship — a relationship with a teacher and a mentor,” Metcalf said. “We have a ‘Tier 1 Intervention,’ and it really is focusing on General Education instruction.”
From when the program was created four years ago until now in the social studies room, the intervention center has branched to three other subjects that students struggle with in school.
“It provides support for all students,” said Beth Boyd, the social studies help-room teacher and special-ed department chair at Grand Ledge High School. “We staffed it withthe extra staff depending on the needs of what the students needed.”
Along the years, the teachers in the center realized that the science and math rooms fill with more students, Boyd said, because they are the most vigorous courses in the teenagers’ high school careers.
“Students change as they come into the building,” she said. “We adapt to their changes — we provide extra support — depending if we have a group of students that come that are deficient in their math skills, and we look at more strategies that’ll give them that extra support to take care of that.”
Since some students’ struggles exceed the classroom setting, Boyd said they also assist on outside needs and not simply on the academic ones.
Because of Grand Ledge High School’s good sports and fine arts programs, Metcalf said that people sometimes overlook the level of academics the school has.
Board Trustee Linda Wacyk said that those two exceeding programs should be attracting parents and future students to the high school.
“The kids are signing up for mentors and showing up, and it’s just cool that we’re offering these programs,” Wacyk said. “We need to make it known to future parents that ‘If you come here, your kids are getting attention.’”