Alumni Student Panels

Name: Mayra Messi

Organization: Central Park East High School (Center for Supportive Schools)

Date: September 13, 2018

SEL Competency: Growth Mindset

Driver of Focus: Building Caring Relationships

Cohort Demographics: 9th Grade Students

OVERVIEW

9th graders often enter CPEHS feeling unsure about how to envision and achieve their future. CPEHS aims to maximize positive peer-to-peer contact such as through panels between alumni and current students. Students learn about college and see how a student like them can achieve, while learning growth mindset language. Graduates from CPEHS have high levels of college persistence.

KEY DETAILS

LENGTH

  • 7-8 Days per year

SETTING

School-wide panels occur during days when special events are happening — such as the day before Thanksgiving — but we also have panels targeted at specific grades.

ACTIVITY

Alumni come back to teach current students about college and what they need to know to be successful, and convey the message, “I was you” and “I made it here, so you can too”.  

  • Guidance counselors and the director of college counseling work together to identify a very wide cross-section of alumni to bring together a diverse set of panelists.
  • Students grades 9-12 come up with the questions that will be asked during the panel interviews and 12th grade youth leaders facilitate the panel discussions.

REASONING

This activity helps current students understand that with hard work and actionable steps, they could be where the alumni that are like them are. It is empowering for students to see students they identify with taking leadership roles and achieve success.

“Kids listen to each other more than they’re going to listen to us. If they’re seeing and hearing it from their peers, they’re going to trust that more – not being lectured or nagged or being sold a bill of goods, which a lot of them had happen in the past.”

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR PRACTICE WORKED?

Based on Network-Wide SEL Survey Analysis, Central Park East HS 9th Graders were identified by Research Alliance for NYC Schools as one of 18 Bright Spots; meaning they had a greater positive effect on youth SEL compared to sites that serve similar students across the Network. The chart shows the change in the percentage of youth responding positively to Survey questions related to Growth Mindset.

98% of Central Park East High School students that enrolled in college 3 semesters ago are still enrolled.

NECESSARY TOOLS

  • Identification of diverse alumni
  • Identification of questions

TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

[Coming Soon]

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Find a printable version of this practice here. If you have questions or thoughts about this practice, comment below.

Related Posts:

Stefano Barros
stefano@ssn-nyc.org

Stefano believes that one of the best ways to develop young leaders is through community building in youth-centered spaces. This is the driving force behind his focus on strengthening SSN’s reservoir of resources through collaborative learning and research. Stefano joined the team after holding college access and youth leadership development roles in Boston and New York City.

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