Consultants from the National Resource Network assured local education leaders Friday that Prosper Waco’s education efforts can be successful since the initiative is using tested programs and sharing data with key community partners.
Prosper Waco’s Education Steering Committee members gave updates on the post-secondary, kindergarten-readiness and family engagement work groups.
Molly Young, chair of the family engagement group, said the team has decided to adopt Brook Avenue Elementary School in an attempt to create pilot programs to build parent engagement. Brook Avenue’s principal has allowed them to design pilot programs to test methods that hopefully can be replicated on other campuses, she said.
Natalie James, chair of the post-secondary group, said her committee seeks to encourage businesses to create more internships for students, providing work-a-day experience before graduation.
The group also is working to expand Project Link, where high school students partner with a Project Link counselor to guide them in applying for college and connecting them with a Project Link adviser at the university level to help them finish college.
The kindergarten-readiness group is still focused on gathering data to create a working benchmark in how to measure progress, which might be delayed until the end of the 2015-16 school year, after prekindergarten students are given their final assessments.
National Resource Network representatives Christa Payne and Deb Vaughn congratulated Prosper Waco officials for their efforts and said they were on the right track to making substantial changes in the community. Payne works as a senior managing consultant for Public Financial Management, an arm of the National Resource Center. Vaughn is a private consultant for the NRN.
The two presented a model to consider in the STEP-UP Achieve job program in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in which the business community provides internships and speaks in schools to give students richer insights into the workplace. The program is successful because of support from education and business partners as well as close communication with social service programs that provide pivotal job skills.
The important point: Other cities nationwide have found success using the same models and strategies Prosper Waco is now considering, such as increased community interaction, data- sharing, and potent business and education partnerships, Payne said.
“There’s a lot out there and you’re on the right track,” Vaughn said.