I was delighted to see front-page coverage for Success in the Middle, the local effort that engages volunteers in tutoring and mentoring middle schoolers (Jan. 2 Eagle). I’m afraid that in my nervousness at being interviewed by a world-class reporter like Roy Wenzl, I gave him the impression I am a full-time volunteer (I am paid a few hours a week to coordinate at Coleman Middle School), and I left out some information.
There are two parts to Success in the Middle: It is a tutoring and mentoring program model and also a loose network. The model uses student academic and behavior data to prioritize students who could benefit from extra support and includes a part-time paid coordinator who also acts as a liaison to partner agencies. The model is used to varying degrees at Brooks, Coleman, Gordon Parks, Robinson and Wilbur middle schools. Communities in Schools coordinates volunteer tutors and mentors at Curtis, Hamilton, Jardine, Pleasant Valley and Truesdell middle schools. Three other middle schools are using school staff to coordinate volunteers until funds can be raised to pay for coordinators. The remaining middle schools address the needs of their students in ways other than through volunteer tutoring and mentoring.
The Success in the Middle network includes schools, sites and agencies that recruit, screen, train, place and support volunteers. Participants include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Communities in Schools, Compeer, Foster Grandparents, the Wichita school district and Youth Horizons, as well as several neighborhood programs that serve middle schoolers after school and on Saturdays: Atwater, Fairmount GoZones, Grant Chapel AME Church and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The 261 volunteers mentioned in the article are volunteering for all these organizations and are coordinated by the various entities. All the partners recruit volunteers. But if a volunteer needs a different schedule or location, we can call on network partners to help get the volunteer connected.
A Success in the Middle fund has been established at the Wichita Community Foundation. Donations to the fund are needed to support part-time coordinators at the schools and neighborhood sites that want them. Additional funds raised will be distributed to partner organizations and agencies to support their efforts to engage volunteers with middle schoolers.
The website www.successinthemiddle.org contains information and links to participating organizations. Volunteers may also complete the online registration form at the site. The information they provide will be used to connect them with a school, neighborhood site or agency that fits their preferences and availability.
Success in the Middle