By Jamillah Rashad
Recently, I was sitting at the table with my three year old daughter, coloring and doing activities in her Mickey Mouse book. We got to a page where we would connect the dots, but I was more excited than she was. I realized to a toddler she did not understand the concept to connecting the dots. So I grabbed her hand and guided her from the number 1 to 18, while she counted out loud. When we were done, she yelled, “Mickey Mouse!” She did not realize that the links would create a bigger picture for her. On a larger scale this is the same strategy we take with the Elev8 program at Marquette School of Excellence – connecting our families to resources to help them build a more powerful picture for life.
When opportunities arise to explain the Elev8 program, I have the same elevator pitch:
Elev8 is a community school initiative that takes a holistic approach to pairing our students and their families to resources that ensure they are able to lead a successful life. Our goal is to connect our students to medical and dental services; provide enrichment programs for both the students and parents, offer leadership development opportunities that empower them to advocate for themselves and our community for positive change.
Although this description gives a brief look at the Elev8 program it does not capture the true essence of what we do at Marquette School of Excellence. During the 2015-2016 school year, Elev8 connected with a total of 877 participants that received services in one capacity or another. Medical compliance reached 99.92% – 1237 out of 1238 students were up to date on their immunizations and physicals. All students were screened for preventative dental services, which led to some of the students being recommended for restorative dental care. Our Health Resources Coordinator, Shamika Woods, was able to connect 45 students to free restorative care through our monthly Advocate dental van service. Also, she worked in collaboration with our school based health center, Esperanza, to link students to behavioral health services. Additionally, we offered a variety of after school programs for our students and a couple of activities for parents on Saturdays. One of the highlights of the year was our Bridge the Gap event planned and hosted by our Mikva Challenge students (youth advocates for the school and community).
The renowned educator, Rita Pierson said, “Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists they become the best they can possibly be.” Since 2008, Elev8 has worked to build a community of champions that motivate and equip all our participants with the assets to achieve greatness. As our internal and external connections continue to grow, we envision a stronger collaborative community school.