None of R.C.’s siblings have graduated with their HS diplomas. Of course, this is one of our goals with her. We want to get her to believe she can graduate on time, and to see herself as a success on her way to graduation. On average she has failed about three classes per semester since her freshman year. R.C.’s graduation coach has been working with her about once a week for the last four months.

The one class R.C. has failed every year since ninth grade is math – two years straight of no success in this content area. R.C. immediately asked her graduation coach for help in this area and they worked on math every meeting for at least 25 minutes. Last semester R.C. passed Algebra I with a C-. A stellar improvement after two years of F’s.

I was proud to see my program working so effectively and I notice R.C.’s attitudes towards school slowly shifting. She’s still not sure she wants to graduate, and it doesn’t help that her parents are fine with her getting a GED, but I believe we are winning her over with support and care.

R.C.’s biggest obstacle was stiff arming her acceptance of failure as normal. She was in a cycle of trying and failing her math tests and classes so often that it became normal. I am proud that the graduation coach was able to show her that with some effort success is within reach. I believe the Communities in Schools mentoring programs effective because they break cycles of learned helplessness and acceptance of failure as normal. With a graduation coaches new perspective and high standard students find ways of believing in themselves. And let’s face it, we can believe in students all we want, but until they believe, success will be a “What if…” away.