It is hard to believe that Corners Outreach began its sixth year in May, 2018. When we began, we talked about a thirteen year plan (K-12; graduation). We are almost at the halfway point. Let us summarize where we are and what we have learned.
Our schools wear ORANGE to stand up against bullies. Corners needs your help to send one large ORANGE message of support, hope and unity to show that we stand together and are united in kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
I always want you to hear thank you first. Without your investment of time and money, Corners would not exist. Without families letting us live out life together, Corners would not have the same impact. Without great school partners, Corners students would not be growing academically. Thank you for seeing and believing in our students and their hope for a better life.
Today, Corners Outreach partners with the school and works in the neighborhoods where our 500 students live. By working with the school and in the neighborhood, we increase students learning as they practice what the school teaches and we serve the whole family.
Our students have a lot going against them: parents working multiple jobs due to low wages, language (Gwinnett County 39%, DeKalb 29% graduation if English
is their second language), and immigration fears, even among those legally here. While most students (80% national average) are US born citizens, many have one or two undocumented parents.
Over the last six years, we have learned a great deal. We've learned that our students need to read at the third grade level to vastly increase graduation rates; you learn to read so that you can read to learn. In the Atlanta area, only 36% of public school students are reading at the third grade correct level. The 64% of students that aren’t reading at the correct level are four times more likely to drop out of school. We spend a lot of time on reading because over 85% of our students are behind. Reading needs practice both at home (read 20 minutes a day) and in our club. Come help us.
Only 13% of Hispanic fourth graders are proficient at reading.
How much our student's writing scores have improved by coming to our program.
How much our student's math scores have improved by coming to our program.
How much our student's reading scores have improved by coming to our program.
50,000 Hours of Relationship Building
We learned that most high school students drop out for one of two reasons:
- Inability to accomplish the education requirements
So at Corners we are helping with both. We have made great strides in education and last year we launched Corners Industries to help combat the poverty our families are facing (details inside).
A big focus for us this year is sharing the stories of our families and students. Inside you will see the story of Ashley and Alfredo. We see these siblings as the same. Let us know how you see them.
I wanted to close by sharing a story and asking for your help.
Jorge’s mom asked me to meet with her and Jorge. Every meeting was the same; Jorge would cry the entire time; not whimpering but big, crocodile tears. It was jarring to see a boy brought to tears
and begging his mom to not ask him why, and heartbreaking to watch his mother’s fears grow. After every meeting, I would stay with Jorge and try to get him to talk.
Finally, one day he was able to share that he was being bullied at school. It was so bad he soiled his pants every day. When the teacher suggested he see the school counselor, the counselor told him to “man up.” While I know most of us are thinking, ‘what is with this school counselor?’, let’s keep the focus on Jorge. Jorge did not know what to do, so every day it got worse.
After Jorge was able to share with me what was going on, I reached out to a counselor at another school that I had a good relationship with, and she made a call to Jorge’s school to help in the matter. Because of her call, Jorge’s counselor came back with a new approach and the bullying stopped.
In many ways, Jorge represents all of our students and parents. Bullies are in more places than just the playground. Bullies exist in stores, in work places, in government and even in church. We must value these families who contribute to America. They build our houses, care for our elderly, cook our food in restaurants and are our neighbors. Let us stop labeling others and move in. We do not need labels for people we know. We are proud that Corners Academy is a place where our students can come and feel safe and experience love and support.
Our schools wear ORANGE to stand up against bullies. Corners needs your help to send one large ORANGE message of
support, hope and unity to show that we stand together against bullying and are united in kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
Our 2025 (remember I said 13 years) plan has Corners Academy helping 4,200 students and Corners Industries as a $30M business. Our local community will benefit over $43M in commerce. We need your participation. Find ways you can help on page 18.