OSKALOOSA — Program leaders gave at-risk program details to members of the Oskaloosa Community School District on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Following a presentation regarding the Oskaloosa Elementary School program overview, Oskaloosa Middle School Student Success coaches Jason Maddy and Ann Roberts shared their program.

Roberts said rather than calling themselves behavior interventionists, she and Maddy are student success coaches.

“We like to refer to ourselves as student success coaches because behavior interventionists at the middle school wasn’t a real fit to get students to come down to us,” she said. “So that is what we refer to ourselves [as.]

Roberts said their purpose is to provide behavioral supports in the areas of self-regulation, problem-solving, executive functioning skills and goal-setting for students at OMS.

“Our goal each day is to coach our students with positive and proactive strategies in order to be successful in the class room within our ‘what I need’ or WIN groups.”

Maddy said so far in the 2019-2020 school year, the student success coaches see anywhere beween 50–60 students a day.

“As soon as the doors open, before school, actually– our day usually starts around 7:30–7:35 – we’ve got kids coming in to us,” he said.

Maddy said office referrals have been greatly reduced this year as compared to the previous year. In 2018-2019, there were 146 office referrals at the end of the first trimester. This year, there were 80.

Roberts said the team does daily check-ins and check-outs with students.

“We also, a lot like the elementary, we do zones of regulation, we set goals for the day and a lot of them are weekly goals. A lot of them are daily goals,” she said. “We check-in in the morning. We check-in some kids even in the middle of the day to see how they are doing.”

Maddy said student success coaches want the students to be very honest with them.

“If there’s an issue with the teacher, issue with administrator, issue outside of school, we want to know what’s going on,” he said. “That helps us with behavior we can do with that student. Because from us, we start with a conversation with them and then from us we make a decision whether or not we should take it to our school counselors or if we bypass that, we take them to administrators right away.”

Around 18-20 students have lunch with Maddy and Roberts. Roberts said that’s a great time for the students to practice social skills.

“We find with a lot of these kids, it’s executive functioning skills that they need support in. So lunchtime is a great time where you see a lot of that going on,” she said.

Self-regulating time, Roberts said, is around 5-10 minutes.

“That’s our goal,” she said. “To get them in and then get them back to class. For a lot of them, that’s all it takes.”

Webster Success Center

Paula Vander Beek said she meets with her students before school starts in the morning.

“In my world, the students have been around for a while,” she said. “They’re generally juniors and seniors. So the relationship component is a very big deal. You’ve got to build a relationship with them right out of the gate or they’re done and not going to probably be very interested.”

Along with relationship-building, meeting with students early and lots of conversations are key components, Vander Beek said, not only with the students but teachers and administrators at the high school as well.

There are 34 students enrolled at Webster currently, Vander Beek said. All the students are not at the school at the same time. As of Dec. 5, five have already met graduation status

Vander Beek said the school’s primary objectives are credit recovery and graduation.

“We talk about it all the time. All of us know that the world is pretty harsh on a high school dropout. You find scenarios where they’re working three jobs at minimum wage to make ends meet and pay their bills. We don’t want that pattern to continue. So I really encourage students that a diploma is a very big deal and credit recovery is what we’re all about.”

Vander Beek said the Webster at-risk program is data and goal-driven.

“Because these students have a little more at stake,” she said. “They’re not too far from that 18, that magic number where the world expects them to have it all figured out. So we do set very precise goals every Monday. We put them up on a bulletin board and then we review them on Fridays to see if they met those goals.”

Dr. Willie Jolley, during a recent visit to Oskaloosa, made a visit to Webster, which helped boost students’ optimism and hope.

“I think at the high school level, that’s where students tend to unravel a little bit. So I try to model daily optimism,” she said. “It’s just the little things every day, greeting them, asking them how their evening was. What do you have in mind today, what do you want today to look like.”

Vander Beek said they work toward what’s next for the students.

“This is not the end of the line here,” she said. “This is the beginning of the line.”

Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at aholland@oskyherald.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.

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