Using Self-Reflection to Drive College Week Curriculum

Name: Bianca SugrimsinghWirna Diaz

Organization: YMCA of Greater NY (Bronx) (Urban Assembly Unison School)

Date: August 21, 2018

SEL Competency: Growth Mindset

Driver of Focus: Goal-Setting and Mastery-Based Experience

Cohort Demographics: 9th-12th Grade


Rowe Scholars at Bronx Explorations Academy aims to provide students resources and support to graduate high school and enroll in a post-secondary opportunity. A new program, Rowe scholars worked to build strong relationships with students and school administrators, and created a Monthly College Week initiative based on school-wide expectations and student requests. Y staff facilitated college readiness sessions, accompanied by one-on-one meetings focused on goal-setting and self-reflection with students in order to ensure student success in the college application process. Rowe Scholars at Bronx Explorations Academy demonstrated improvement in Growth Mindset on the Network survey and in academic performance.



  • Monthly college week during school year
  • 55-minute push-in sessions lead by Y staff. Focus on one grade per day and visit all classes.
  • Weekly planning meetings with school administration college access team (principal, guidance counselor, YMCA Program Director, a few teachers)


  • In classrooms
  • Y Rowe Scholars room, central location in school that all students pass by. Open door policy with contact info when Y staff aren’t there. Decorated with college pennants, posters, calendars. Wall outside room featured student vision boards and other projects.
  • Whole school intervention with individualized follow up.


Program Director and 2 teen advisors, along with the classroom teacher and a teaching assistant, depending on the grade. Using the Rowe curriculum, led lessons related to college and career readiness. Sessions were altered to include student input, but the objectives from the Rowe curriculum drove the session.

Sessions were broken up into different sections: 1. Presentation led by Y staff (i.e. specific skill building/description). 2. Small group work led by Y and school staff involving application of said skill.  3. Feedback section: asking about student input on future session topics.

Students were able to get one-on-one support later in the Y Rowe Scholars Room. Y staff kept student “portfolios” with a simple loose-leaf checklist of student goals and tracked progress through one-on-one check ins.


BEA and Rowe Scholars recognized that they had an opportunity to reach all students and ensure that they graduate high school with a plan to succeed afterwards. The College Week curriculum provided students with tools to accomplish post-secondary goals, and reflect on their progress towards those goals.


Based on Network-Wide SEL Survey Analysis, YMCA Rowe Scholars at Bronx Explorations Academy was 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.


  • Individualized goal setting sheet (created with students)
  • Space to display goals/student work
  • A set college access curriculum for 9th-12th grade students.


  • Create expectations based on students. Meet students where they are!
  • Provide scaffolded instruction and opportunities to apply new skills, and 1-on-1 support.
  • Make your and your fellow staff accessible: Open door policy, if possible.
  • Establish a close working relationship with school staff; ask about input when planning curriculum for college week, include relevant vocabulary where applicable.
  • If possible, ask guidance counselor/CA staff to provide student profiles/report cards/transcripts
  • Use incentives to encourage student participation  (ex. Field trips, swag, recognition, etc.)

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Stefano Barros

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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