|THE THREE CONERSTONES
- SUCCESS BEHAVIORS are the behavioral expectations of all students who are enrolled in the program.
- THE FEEDBACK FORMULA is the method for expressing positive and negative emotions.
- THE "STEP-BY-STEP" METHOD is instruction that breaks down difficult tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
For the last nine years students have come to the Mt. Olive Education Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays to participate in a research-based , after-school program that includes:
- one-on-one tutoring i.e. the "buddy" system
- computer training
- adaptive skills training
- public recognition of each student's success behaviors
The program is able to serve 55 students from first grade to 12th grade who have an academic weakness and/or the need to improve their interpersonal skills.
Dr. Carolyn M. Tucker, a University of Florida Distinguished Alumni Professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and Community Health and Family Medicine initially developed the program to improve African-American students' academic performances, social and daily living skills and build each child's self-esteem while also reducing inappropriate behaviors that hinder learning. The program is a result of Tucker's research involving 266 black families and 417 white families. The purpose of the study was to indentify predictors of academic behavior.
"The most significant and surprising finding was that maladaptive behavior -hitting, fighting, defiance- had the greatest impact on academic achievement,"-Tucker
Two years after setting up the program at the Mt. Olive Education Center, research showed the positive effects of the strategies designed by Tucker.
Sessions are held for two hours twice a week from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Typically, each session begins with a brief meeting of the staff and volunteers to help prepare for the day. The first hour is spent by individually tutoring each student, primarily in math and reading, but also in any other subject presenting a problem. After tutoring , students have a 15-minute snack break while practicing their socialization skills (i.e. introducing themselves, talking to one another and basically brushing up on their manners.) Next, students have 30 minutes of skills training where they practice public speaking, socialization skills and learn practical tasks like balancing a checkbook. The final 15 minutes is set aside for "sharing." During this time, everyone takes part in giving praise for special acts observed in others. For example, a student's attentiveness during tutoring would be recognized by the tutor in front of the entire group of students and staff, or a student might praise another student's helpfulness. The result, self praise--an important part of the program, because it helps students recognize and practice the success behaviors and also builds self-esteem. In addition to sessions at Mt. Olive, students also take field trips where they not only learn new things but also get to practice their social skills in a real-life setting.
Parents of the children attending the program play a key role in their success by reinforcinng the skills they learn at center and applying them outside of center. Separate workshops conducted by Tucker's staff teach parents how to:
- express their feelings in a constructive manner
- use the program's "step-by-step" method
- solve problems in a timely fashion
- reinforce success behaviors
The program has been so successful that the Florida Department of Education has approved a four-year grant to fund statewide workshops that train teachers to use these successful methods and strategies in their own classrooms. National workshops funded by the Hitachi Foundation have been launched to advise future program administrators on implementing satelite partnership education programs around the country. Other program sponsors include:
the Jesse Ball DuPont Fund
the University of Florida
United Way of Gainesville
the New York Times Foundation
the North Florida Regional Medical Foundation
Dr. Tucker has also written a book that embodies the methods taught at the center entitled: African-American Children: A Self Empowerment Approach to Modifying Behavior Problems and Preventing Academic Failure.
"The ultimate goal of the research-based model partnership education program is to make education work for all children,"-Tucker