Change can be hard, no matter who you are. For students in the transition years of 6th and 9th grades, it can be especially challenging. New buildings…new routines…new classes and teachers. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and it can almost be too much for some students.
Insert Project Excel and Kristen Horrell. Project Excel, funded through Title I, began this year as a transition program designed to support the academic success of freshmen at Frankfort High School. Students were selected who demonstrated a need for additional academic support.
Throughout this school year, Mrs. Horrell has worked with approximately 50 different students in an effort to improve their academic performance. When the program began, there was a lofty goal of having 100% of participating students being on track, or having a plan to be on track, for graduation based on credits and graduation plans.
Some students were on the verge of receiving a couple of credits. Some were on the verge of receiving no credits at all. Through the hard work of the students and the added accountability to Mrs. Horrell, the vast majority were well on their way to achieving that goal.
Mrs. Horrell said that most of these students just needed to know that “someone was in their corner.” Her office has been a safe landing spot for many students this year. She spends a lot of her time emailing both students and teachers, advocating for the students as they work toward their goals.
Layni, one of the students in the program, says, "It has helped me focus more on school and do more work. It's helped me grow as a person. It helps me with my grades, too."
Dakota, another student, spoke about how the program helped him. "Having extra people around that come in and help has helped me get motivated and complete work."
Speaking of Mrs. Horrell, Caleb said, "She kind of made me do my work and helped me a lot more than I expected."
Overall, Mrs. Horrell is very pleased with the results of this new initiative at FHS. However, she has seen other benefits, as well. "On the surface, seeing students earn credits would seem like a pretty big reward for this program. It is, after all, what the goal of the program is. But, as I've been working alongside these young men and women, I've seen changes in them. Students are advocating for their needs, putting in extra time to get caught up, working with their teachers, and many are beginning to see the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with hard work and determination. Knowing that these students are developing these lifelong skills that will take them so far in life beyond their high school years is no better reward for me. I am beyond proud of them!"
The plan for next school year is to continue on with a number of these students as they enter their sophomore year while potentially adding a staff member to work with incoming freshmen. She is hopeful that her added goal of improved communication with parents will only further enhance the program.
Lesley Miller, Director of Literacy and Title I at CSF, also expressed that the program will be expanded to include a staff member working with incoming 6th grade students at Frankfort Middle School for the 2021-2022 school year.
Mrs. Horrell, along with all of us at the Community Schools of Frankfort, are extremely proud of these students and their efforts this year! #hotdogpride