By Nowmee Shehab
Nowmee Shehab is a 2012-2013 corps member serving on the Summit Partners team at the Harbor Pilot Middle School in Dorchester.
Posters hanging in the school remind students about the challenge.
What do a championship winning NBA team and an education non-profit have in common? They both have a vested interest in the success of Boston Public School students; City Year Boston and the Boston Celtics are working to keep BPS students in school and on track to graduate. The Step Your Game Up initiative is designed to target two early warning indicators that a student is at risk for dropping out of school.
The initiative will focus on students who are failing one of more of their core classes and on students who have less than 90 percent attendance. Corps members and teachers of the 12 participating schools will give out tickets to students who improve their attendance and grades. Another way Harbor students will be able to earn tickets is by following the school’s three principles: respect, effort and responsibility. Corps members will thoroughly track students’ performance through cycles in which they will earn these tickets. These tickets will be raffled for Celtics games tickets, events with Celtics players and NBA gear.
The Celtics hope to engage students in their academics as well as instill positive habits that will help them succeed.
The program was a success last year with nearly 69 percent of students who were receiving a “D” or lower in math or English Language Arts improving their grades to a “C-” or better. Additionally, 74 percent of the eligible students improved their attendance. Forty-eight percent of those students even rose above the 90 percent attendance goal!
Josh Cantor, the Team Leader of Summit Partners team serving at the Harbor thinks Step Your Game Up is a great initiative; a lot of the students look up to Celtics players. Cantor said, “What better impact can these players have on students than to encourage them to stay in school and improve their academics?”
The corps members are really excited about the program as well. We think that it will encourage a lot of students to truly excel. Esteban Kim, a corps member serving in the seventh grade noted that a majority of his students have never been to the TD Garden, home court to the Celtics. It would be really meaningful if they are rewarded for their hard work and perseverance with a trip to ‘The Garden’ and see the Celtics play in person.
Theresa Oberst, a corps member serving in the eighth grade said, “My students remember the program from last year and are very excited that it is starting again!” The whole school’s enthusiasm is noteworthy since increasing positive school culture is a mission of both City Year and the Celtics.