Check & Connect: Keeping kids in school

Check and Connect School Program

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota program, now 25 years old, is focused on keeping more students in school.

The University of Minnesota created Check & Connect as a mentoring program for students at risk of dropping out of school.

Mentors meet with mentees at least once a week. The mentor will check the student's grades, absences, behavioral referrals, etc. while then helping the student with areas that need improvement. Mentors also serve as a liaison between home and school.

"At first when I heard about it, I didn't want to do it because I didn't want anybody looking at my grades or anything," said Lisa Stovall, a senior at Harding Senior High School in St. Paul.

Stovall joined the program more than a year ago. Harding Check & Connect coordinator Joan Gudorf is her mentor. The pair now meet every day.

"At this point she's on track to graduate and she was not on track to graduate when we first started working together," Gudorf said.

According to Doug Revsbeck, principal at Harding High School, 20-30 students are currently part of the program. The school has been a participant of Check & Connect since 2007.

"Overall, graduation rates across the school is at about 82 percent. And we're really proud of the fact that this is really a key component in meeting the needs of those students who have benefited from the service," Principal Revsbeck said.

While its roots are in Minnesota, Check & Connect is now in 35 states and abroad.

"Check and connect is one strategy," said David Johnson, director of the Institute of Community Integration at the U of M.

He went on to say, "It's not a silver bullet. It doesn't cure all but it certainly is one effective strategy we have had the opportunity to research over these 25 years to really demonstrate that it does work in helping students to attend, engage in school and ultimately graduate."

Stovall said she has seen a difference in her performance at school saying, "At first I didn't used to turn in my work but now when I turn in my work I feel good about it, like I accomplished something."


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