Reach Advisors (a.k.a. Graduation Gurus)

Start developing connections with students BEFORE they leave rather than trying to bring them back AFTER they are gone.

Photo of Clint Heitz
37 18

Written by

Update! March 24th, 2016

Had the opportunity to meet with one of our associate principals who is coordinating our PRIDE time (think advisory, TA, homeroom, etc.). She had some great ideas on how to tweak the scale-ability for a slower implementation if there is a need to take more time to build buy-in with students. Additionally, there has been success in the past with similar activities where only a few students from four-year universities came back to meet with current students, so she sees great potential for a program that reaches out to students who have taken a variety of post-secondary paths (i.e. vocational school, community college, university, etc.). In fact, there are already students each year that contact the school looking for a way to give back.

In the meantime, I'm looking at what a implementation package might look like to help schools put this idea in place, and I really like the idea from my SalesForce.com partner, Patrick, to eventually include an online component.

Thanks to those who have been keeping track. Please take a moment to evaluate my idea and share any feedback. Thanks!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Update! March 22nd, 2016

Uploaded my pitch video to YouTube (here's the link: https://youtu.be/_4wX010NVtA) and sent along to my coach. Still continuing to hash out the roll-out of the idea and scale-ability.

Thanks for all the help and guidance from my coach and SalesForce.com partner!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Update! March 17, 2016

Great GHO with my coach and communication from other partners, so there are a few updates (graphic and info below). slowly chugging forward in developing this idea. Thanks for the support!

Brief Overview:

Our goal is to create a program that builds relationships with students that inspire them to graduate and pursue post-secondary goals. By staying connected with graduates as “Gurus” for younger students, we will welcome alumni home while providing current students with guidance.

How to get this idea off the ground (in progress):

Year One

  1. Identify an advisor, facilitator, or project manager. This could be a motivated classroom teacher, a student group, or even the guidance office staff.
  2. Identify or establish times for students to visit other classes and/or have the Graduation Gurus visit the school for talks. Some schools have homeroom (T/A, advisory, etc.) that would serve as perfect, pre-scheduled time. The main point, however, is to build this into the school day to ensure that students can attend. Perhaps once a quarter?
  3. Hold a kick-off presentation to find juniors and seniors willing to take part in the program. Don’t be afraid to personally invite a wide range of students. College isn’t just for AP students, so you need to make sure you represent all walks of life in your building.
  4. Meet with your new Graduation Gurus to establish what their plans are and why, what they’ve learned about making the most of their high school experience, and what they’ve learned about the college application / scholarship / military process up to this point.
  5. Arrange for structured visiting events, as well as other gatherings that could draw in students.
  6. (to be continued…)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Update! March 10, 2016

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

(3/9/2016) Our goal is to build a program that brings alumni back to the school as a way to inspire, motivate, and inform current secondary level students to pursue post-secondary education. Through advisory classes and school-hosted events, we would bring alumni into the school who have gone down various avenues after graduation. Their insights, stories, etc., which would be all their own but guided by some “starter-questions/prompts” would be geared toward candidly connecting with current students. At the same time, the events and visits would allow the alumni a reason to visit, and an opportunity to build a rapport with their alma mater to help support them in their post-secondary endeavors.

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)

(3/9/2016) This idea promotes growth by allowing students to hear from peers who are going through the post-secondary experience right now, as opposed to a counselor or teacher providing second-hand information and packaged tips. This would not only be an opportunity to motivate and inform students, but the alumni would build rapport and be provided a purpose that should both motivate and support their efforts.

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

(3/9/2016) One particular selling point is the connection of our school to various post-secondary organizations, which would draw attention to our school among those organizations and the community. As for teachers, this would be something that would allow them to stay connected to former students. As a result, they would get to see how their students have developed, bring back “favorites”, share success stories, and make their own personal connections with the organizations.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

(3/10/2016) Spoke with principal about how he would suggest moving forward. Suggested another admin to talk to, develop a “catchy name”, and launch ideas.

(3/9/2016) I’m hoping to meet with my principal to discuss how this might be incorporated with our new daily advisories for the 2016-2017 school year. These advisories are referred to as “PRIDE Time”.

Another target audience would be schools who are already using advisory time of some sort or who are partnered with a university, such as University High School in Illinois. The latter would provided a much needed to connection to get started. In fact, schools with ROTC  and military recruiters would also be great to partner with since they employ a similar idea.

How you can get started:

Activities:

  • Graduates
    • Blogging about the school-appropriate side of post-secondary life
    • Guest speaking during registration and academic awards
  • HS Students
    • Soon-to-be graduates getting tips on dorm supplies, life-hacks, moral support
  • Both
    • Shadowing days where the mentees can visit the mentors on campus
    • Brunches and luncheons that bring the graduates back into the school
    • Summer get-togethers to eat, connect, and reflect
    • Transition gatherings
    • Mentors saying good-bye and possibly offering contact info for on-going connections
    • Invite new mentors to learn from those transitioning out

Metrics:


Materials to get this idea off the ground:

3/9/2016

  • Research into data supporting the benefit of such relationships
  • Print and digital publications promoting and explaining the program / process
  • Partnerships with groups who would like to provide “swag” during visits to help with the transition to post-secondary life (school supplies, gear with school logos, dorm accessories, etc.)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our school recently posted an picture and S/O on Twitter for a former at-risk student who came back to tell his story of how he went on to find success. However, that was to one class, and it was for a student that happened to keep in touch with one teacher. 

What about developing relationships and plans with graduates before they leave? Perhaps a scholarship could be developed for mentoring students, or they could simply document their interactions as volunteer hours. Either way, a school could create relations with soon-to-be graduates and make arrangements for expectations, ideas, and events prior to them leaving. Of course, the first year would be the most time consuming and challenging, but future years would have students who have benefited from the experience and gain interest.

An important aspect of this would also be to not focus solely on students attending major universities. Tap into students going to the community college down the road, the military, and trade schools so that we expose students to all avenues or post-secondary success.

Possible events or connections:

  • Blogging about the school-appropriate side of post-secondary life
  • Shadowing days where the mentees can visit the mentors on campus
  • Brunches and luncheons that bring the graduates back into the school
  • Guest speaking during registration and academic awards
  • Summer get-togethers to eat, connect, and reflect
  • Transition gatherings
    • New graduates getting tips on dorm supplies, life-hacks, moral support
    • Mentors saying good-bye and possibly offering contact info for on-going connections
    • Invite new mentors to learn from those transitioning out

Have a doc or slides that you're collaborating in? Link it here.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1P30aloMU_Fh7BpTCscdIf0FIRid_qOYFWzOoeSOnQ9I/edit?usp=sharing

Evaluation results

15 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea! - 100%

37 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Shawna
Team

Hi Clint!  I love this idea and wanted to start trying it in our school.  I am a high school counselor, and before our seniors graduate, we have an individual exit interview with each of them.  One of the questions we added to our interview this year is if they would be willing to mentor students next year, and if they are in  town, come back and talk with kids about graduation and college.  Since it's all new, I'm not sure how we will use them next year, but we will.  But, the part I wanted to share with you is the excitement the kids have when we ask them the question.  They all of the sudden feel very empowered and excited that someone would want to hear from them.  I'm overly surprised as to how many "Yes!" answers we have received.  Just thought I would share.    :)

Photo of Clint
Team

Shawna Myers Thank you, so much, for sharing that! It warms my heart to know that this idea has had an impact. I would love to hear more as you continue your journey with the idea. Your experience could add a ton of insight in growing the idea. 

I'm also thrilled to hear about your student response. Many of the skeptical comments I get regard students not wanting to come back, so I especially love hearing that there is such enthusiasm. 

Good luck! I can't wait to hear more about your success!

Photo of Edisha
Team

Alumni providing guidance to the students of their own Alma Matter is very encouraging as they can share post college success, excellent!

Photo of Clint
Team

Thank you to all of the great comments! I've created a GDoc, started an idea, and invited many to join. I apologize on the slow build, but I appreciate the patience.

Photo of Lori
Team

Love this idea. Our Sophomore and Junior Business studentity are working on IMPACT Philly Projects and we are blessed to have PhilaU students as mentors to help guide them through the process.
My colleague Mary Ruskey and I would love to help or provide insight as to what has been successful for us.

I am also wondering if the "through college" piece could be addressed by creating programs where young professionals could mentor students who are enrolled in higher ed programs. 

Photo of Clint
Team

Lori Corcoran - Do you happen to have any links to share for the IMPACT Philly Projects?

Also, love the idea of including young professionals. Perhaps as Graduation Gurus grows, we can partner with more organizations and universities to build that idea out, too.

Photo of Lori
Team

Hi Chris, 
I will gather some resources and send them to you tomorrow.

Thanks!

Photo of Lori
Team

It's worked very well for us. The PhilaU students have been vital in helping us design prototypes of hygiene kits and their fashion design students are assisting with sewing and piecing scarves and totes to house the goods.

Photo of Clint
Team

Lori Corcoran - I think it's an awesome idea to put together some first-year survival gear (hygiene kits, gift card(s), alumni gear, etc.). It's a great way to say thank you, help the Gurus, etc. This would be a great way for sponsors to get involved, too. They could put logos on the packaging and help offset some of the cost through donations and such. I know Patrick mentioned something about http://SalesForce.com possibly being able to help with online arrangements... Hmmm... Being a part of the Reach Higher initiative, perhaps there will be more interest, too.

Photo of Rurik
Team

Added some thoughts and commentary to the Google Doc - do you have any areas that would be good to bolster?

Photo of Clint
Team

I'm trying to envision making this scaleable and getting the idea rolling out. It's huge to wrap my head around...

Photo of Rurik
Team

Maybe it would help to think of this as a dissertation proposal. Get your sections, idea problem solution, review of supporting literature and how you plan to evaluate the http://program....do a pilot maybe?

Photo of Clint
Team

Rurik Nackerud - That next step is the hard part, for sure. I think my next step is to do just what you mention. I need to take a little time to "package" the idea in a more stream-lined, organized program. I do have a small group interested in piloting with our at-risk program next year, and our admin is interested in starting a smaller pilot with seniors and juniors in the building.

Photo of Lori
Team

CRHeitz I checked out the Google Doc. Ideas look good. Could you add a possible Zoom meet and greet to the digital element? Alumni could meet with several students at the same time online to discuss college life and provide tips to a successful transition.

Also, I really like the idea of incorporating alumni that are 5 to 10 years out. Wondering if there could be opportunities for students to shadow those young professionals. 

Photo of Clint
Team

Lori Corcoran - Thanks for the input. I love the idea of adding a Zoom meet! My original idea was to have several of those types of meetings, but one of the concerns that people raised would be that too many commitments might limit the willingness of Gurus to participate (first-year out of HS is pretty busy). However, maybe that could be something to add as an optional element? Or, perhaps a long-term goal for the project once it has been established and gained momentum?

The 5-10 year part is really exciting to me, too. Early in the program, Gurus could meet up with students during college visits and site tours, but the 5-10 year part definitely helps build community ties that benefit all involved in the program.

Thanks for the feedback!

Photo of Beth
Team

Clint- you've captured a wonderful way to involve community, families and students! There are important elements of equity in your work that equal the playing field for all students to become a Guru or be impacted by a Guru. 

Photo of Jimmy
Team

Hey Clint. Proud of you! Keep believing!  We are lucky to have you at BHS. You have my support and look forward to working with you & our staff on this idea. -Jimmy 

Photo of Angelo
Team

Hey Clint, will absolutely get behind this idea... building relationships is key. Most everyone can name their fav teacher, that impacted them for a lifetime.   It was the relationship that was developed that created the successful learning outcomes!  Love your work and admire your passion!  Angelo

Photo of Clint
Team

Robin U / Danny Scuderi / Angelo Truglio - I was thinking you might like to throw some support behind the Graduation Guru idea! If you have time, I'd love to have your assistance during the Teacher's Guild selection process. Thanks in advance for any support you can show during the evaluation process!

Photo of Clint
Team

If you haven't already, I'd like to personally invite Lisa Abel-Palmieri Michael Schurr Rurik Nackerud Lori Corcoran Edwin Lagos Molly McMahon Dan Ryder Lise Galuga Kate Rancourt and Patrick to evaluate this idea for the Select phase. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Photo of Clint
Team

Thanks for the support! I hope you all are enjoying the Select process!

Photo of Patrick
Team

Clint Heitz  I just updated the Google Doc with some ideas about how this would live in the online space. Happy to discuss it further.

Photo of Rurik
Team

At the last Teacher's Guild MeetUp this was one of the projects we thought about. One group described how they might go about building and sustaining the mentorship connections as cohorts with service projects and then call back graduates through continued service projects with their high school cohort. Another sub-group, the group I worked with, plotted what a graduate alumni connections department might look like. We discussed paid or unpaid folks working with recent graduates and coordinating new initiatives. Their sole focus would be on sustaining relationships with graduates. I imagine that they would network with the local chamber of commerce to offer internships to graduates and encourage grads to visit the school to encourage students trying to navigate and understand the other side of high school. A huge focus on relationships.

We hadn't gotten all that far into the potential logistics but were pretty excited about different schools and their <MascotName> Associations, Alumni events, and strategic connections for students, former students, educators, and community members.

Photo of Molly
Team

Clint - you should check out Shawna Myers  idea Former Graduates (current college students) as Mentors to High School Students. Seems like she would be a great team member. Awesome idea! 

Photo of Lise
Team

Love this plan! I speak on mentoring and the importance of finding mentors but also being mentors. Would love to help!

Photo of Paula
Team

Hey Clint,

+1 to all comments below! I would suggest, if you haven't already, to start a gdoc and we could start all collaborating Michael Schurr , Edwin Lagos and I also would love to! Maybe Lisa Palmieri, Ph.D. would also join forces!  What do you think?

Photo of Lisa
Team

Absolutely - mentoring matters! 

Photo of Clint
Team

I love that idea, and Edwin Lagos has already started a GDoc. I have to admit...this is my first time through this process, and it's a bit overwhelming. Any tips for keeping things straight and being an effective participant? 

Photo of Michael
Team

Hey Clint. Would a quick call or GHO to talk the process out work for you? I would be happy to discuss how this all works in a bit more detail.  Let me know.

M

Photo of Michael
Team

Hey Clint, Awesome idea! Very excited to work with you and Edwin Lagos to flesh these ideas out together.  I like that you address the variety of post high school options and that there is value added from all experiences.  I also appreciate that you are thinking about how to entice previous students to come back and mentor HS students. I think Edwin is going to start a gdoc for us to start working on these ideas in more detail. I will provide a template of questions to guide us.

M

Photo of Clint
Team

Thanks to you and Edwin Lagos for taking the lead. Any suggestions about how to be a more engage participant? I kind of feel like dead weight from this point on since it's my first time through...

Photo of Paula
Team

Hey Clint,
You can join Edwin and help develop the mentorship idea as well as start your own doc where we  can all develop with you some of the other ideas u shared, such as:
"Blogging about the school-appropriate side of post-secondary life

Shadowing days where the mentees can visit the mentors on campus
Brunches and luncheons that bring the graduates back into the school

Guest speaking during registration and academic awards

Summer get-togethers to eat, connect, and
reflect
Transition gatherings

New graduates getting tips on dorm supplies, life-hacks, moral support
Mentors saying good-bye and possibly offering contact info for on-going connections
Invite new mentors to learn from those transitioning out"

Photo of Dan
Team

Clint!  This is a pretty dang rad idea -- especially in the face of so many students feeling lost in that middle space between high school and getting started in college and those who have little support structures in place beyond schools.  

I really like that your idea points out those students who aren't in big time four-year universities.  As a rural Maine educator, I see my own students struggle with life after high school because they simply don't have any way to ease the transition, much less support them in future academic/vocational training efforts.

Wondering how organizations such as Gear Up might add an arm called Gear Shift, developing a system similar to yours described above.

Photo of Clint
Team

What is "Gear up"? I'v yet to hear of that one.

I work with a lot of at-risk students, and universities aren't always on their radar at this point in their lives. I think it's important to foster those same relationships to give them a safe place to reach back to when needed and inspire others.

Photo of Kate
Team

I love the idea of a scholarship going to mentors! This was a great idea. Making these connections before you graduate seems to be the most likely scenario of success in the venture! It would also help push students to explore what they love and perhaps finding out what they should major in.

Photo of Lisa
Team

Just went to a wonderful session at the Mentoring Partnership the other day. Learned about their model "everyday mentoring." Might be some good resources here for you: http://www.mentoringpittsburgh.org/pages/program-resources

Photo of Edwin
Team

Clint,

Love the idea of tapping into students that are going to  "community college down the road, the military, and trade schools so that we expose students to all avenues or post-secondary success." They definitely have a wealth of knowledge to learn from. 

Check out some of the work being done by http://tnachieves.org is doing. What could we take from them and what could we improve?