Why Strong Relationships are Key to Student Success

Author: Paul J. Luna, President and CEO

November 5, 2015

As a board member of America's Promise, I was recently asked to share my thoughts on their new report - Don't Quit on Me, and the importance of strong relationships to college and career readiness.   

There is no question that academic preparedness is a key component to college and career readiness. As a foundation focused on creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education, we champion rigorous classroom experiences, high standards and aligned assessments in the communities we serve. However, we know that there is more that goes into preparation for postsecondary success than academics.

America’s Promise recently released a new report, Don’t Quit on Me, which highlights the fact that relationships with supportive adults and peers can increase the nation’s high school graduation rate. According to the report, young people who left school before graduating were twice as likely to report that they reached out to “no one” for help and half as likely to have reached out to a teacher for help, in comparison to those who graduated on time.

The fact is...relationships matter. Relationships with family, friends, teachers, mentors and other supportive adults are a key factor in a student’s likelihood to succeed. By building these strong relationships early on, students feel supported and important. Knowing they have a support system they can rely on helps to boost their confidence and pushes them to success.  

And…Culture matters. Creating school and community cultures in which all students are held to high standards and expectations is also critical for student success. Communicating to students how important postsecondary degree completion is from early on in their academic journey, is key to implementing a college-going culture both at home and school.  

Student academic supports, along with actively engaged families and communities, contribute to that culture and, ultimately, to students success. This is especially true for underserved and first-generation students.

At Helios, we have seen this first-hand through our partnerships in Arizona and Florida.

For example, we are partnering with the Yuma Union High School District in Yuma, Arizona to ensure that every student is prepared for success in college and career. Through Ready Now Yuma, we are building a college-going culture in which each student is challenged, supported and prepared. Including the word “supported” in the Ready Now Yuma description is very intentional as we know that supports are necessary to ensure success.

In Florida, we partner with Take Stock in Children which provides a unique opportunity for deserving low-income students, many from minority families, to escape the cycle of poverty through education. Involvement with the student begins in middle school where they provide mentoring and coaching through high school and ultimately provide students with scholarships to college as an incentive for them to stay on track.

Both of these examples require commitment on the part of the community. From teachers to community-based organizations to family members – we all have a role to play in ensuring student success. But, the good news is that it can be done.  

If we build trusting, supportive and genuine relationships with students, they will rise to the expectations we have set for them.

Click here to learn more about how Helios Education Foundation is helping to ensure more students in Arizona and Florida are college and career ready. 

Click here to read the original post on the America's Promise Blog. 

Category: Education Issues

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