Discussions about problems with motivating Hispanic children in academic settings prompted the development of the ESL Middle School Achievers program in 1997. The goal is to continue increasing the graduation rate among Hispanic students in Forsyth County. Since 1997 the rate has increased from 73% to 85.4% and we believe the Hispanic League has had a great influence with the turn around. Each year, the Hispanic League and Reynolds American partner to offer incentive awards to over 700 middle school ESL students.
Representatives from Reynolds American, YMCA of NWNC, Walmart, the Hispanic League, and the community visit each of the 9 participating schools -Clemmons, East, Kernersville, Mineral Springs, Northwest, Philo-Hill, Southeast, Walkertown and Wiley - to speak to the participating students about how Hispanics can succeed in the community despite language and cultural differences.
These awards have helped many students realize the importance of learning English, and that a student’s ability to succeed will be very limited without having done so. It is vital for these students to not only grasp the English language, but to master it before they finish high school so they can go on to pursue other endeavors, such as a higher education. This program focuses on seven areas of each student’s improvement in: academics, attendance, punctuality, effort, behavior, class participation and English proficiency.
These categories were chosen to measure each student’s progress as a whole. Our hope is that by focusing on each of these seven aspects of their middle school experience, they will develop into responsible students and realize their full potential. Eight Winners at each school are awarded $100 Visa gift cards and a certificate at the year-end ceremonies for “Most Improved” and “Overall Achievement.” All participants receive a t-shirt for their hard work and effort.
The Hispanic League’s Middle School Achievers’ Program has presented recognition to hundreds of students since its inception in 1998. With the continuing sponsorship of the Hispanic League, Reynolds American, the YMCA of NWNC, and Walmart Neighborhood Markets, this has been a rewarding event for the Clemmons, East Forsyth, Kernersville, Mineral Springs, Northwest, Philo-Hill, Southeast, Walkertown, and Wiley Students.
Since 2012, the Hispanic League's Education Committee, interns and volunteers started to visit each school and share activities around different themes. The theme for each school year is EDUCATION along with a different quote each school year. The proverb (theme) of the 2015-2016 t-shirt is "You can go as far as you dream, think, and imagine." Students were asked to participate in activities that helped them dream, think, and imagine completing school; going to college and having their dream career.
To choose the winners for each school, students ask teachers to complete two evaluation forms – one in the first semester and another in March. The students distribute these to teachers of classes where they feel they have been successful. Areas of interest included: attendance, participation, behavior, academic achievement and English proficiency. Additionally there is a section for teachers’ comments. First and Second Evaluations are then scored by the Education Committee.
We look forward to students and professionals taking part in our Middle School Achievers Program and the Awards Ceremony in May and June! It is our fervent desire that these Middle School students continue their education, graduate from High School, and go to a college/university.
If you would like to help make a difference, join our Education Committee. Contact Juan Aguilar at (336) 770-1228, Juan@hispanicleague.org.