Academics

May's Tutor of the Month - Cheryl Hecksher

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Let’s give a warm welcome to our newest tutor of the month, Cheryl Hecksher! Cheryl is originally from Los Angeles but before moving to Las Vegas 12 years ago, she spent many years in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Mexico City. She is fluent in Spanish and loves Mexican food and music. Becoming a teacher was always one of her life’s ambitions, but she was not able to attend college until later in life. Immediately after obtaining her degree though, she moved to Las Vegas to pursue a teaching credential and a job. She is now in her 11th year of teaching. She has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades, as well as Adult ESL (English as a second language). “My favorite thing about teaching is working side-by-side with students who may be struggling and then seeing that moment when they finally ‘get it’,” Cheryl told us. She hopes to get better and better at teaching every year to help at-risk students close the achievement gap. To reach that goal, she plans on obtaining her National Board Certification within the next few years. She currently teaches 2nd grade and tutors 4th grade through Andson at Sunrise Acres Elementary School. She enjoys working with students of all ages.

Cheryl has many hobbies including: travel, genealogy, and reading historical fiction. However, she is most passionate about art. She has even had the opportunity to travel to Florence, Italy about ten years ago. In Florence, she was able to see many of the Renaissance masterpieces, like Michelangelo’s David in person, which she had studied and written about in college. “It was an unforgettable experience,” she exclaimed. She plans on traveling throughout the world experiencing the art of many different cultures in the years to come. We are grateful that Cheryl is sharing some of her enthusiasm and passion with Andson and our students.

April's Tutor of the Month - Jessica Gentekos

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By Hannah Moore

Las Vegas native, Jessica Gentekos helps us greet April with her Tutor of the Month status, and has certainly been around the block when it comes to schools of Southern Nevada. She attended high school at Chaparral, her undergraduate at UNLV, and then taught at J. Marlan Walker Elementary before moving on to teaching second grade at Frias Elementary, where she still is today. When it comes to tutoring, helping students understand concepts they were taught at school, and witnessing the progress made really drives her. Her free time encompasses being a true Philadelphia Eagles fan and reading for pleasure. "It's kinda fun to do the impossible" is a great Walt Disney quote that lends itself to her life. Thanks Jessica, for aiding us in making things possible!

March's Tutor of the Month - John Yoder

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By Hannah Moore

March 2015 brings us tutor of the month honoree, John Yoder! John was inspired to teach simply by his love of working with kids, and to this day, that remains his favorite thing about teaching. Although he grew up in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, John has taken greatly to the southwest and teaches Education Computer Technology to all grades at Ronzone Elementary School here in Las Vegas. When not at Ronzone, John tutors through Andson at the James Boys and Girls Club. John’s favorite subjects are history and science, which would explain his adventurous passion for Mayan Archeology. In fact, John has visited 37 major Mayan archaeological sites and 18 national parks. His goal is to reach 70 total Mayan archeological sites and all 59 National parks in the United States. His 16 and 18 year old daughters must hear plenty of inspirational stories from all of that exploration! And as far as inspiration for his students goes, John states that “Your future is only as small as your imagination.” Thank you for bringing your bold spirit to Andson, John Yoder. The kids surely do appreciate it as much as we do.

Gordon McCaw Elementary School

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Gordon McCaw Elementary is one of Andson’s newest sites. Andson has agreed to maintain their funding so students can finish out the year in their after school programs. The school will soon to be transitioning into a magnet program. Not only will they be implementing our after school tutoring, but we will be assisting them in the process of finishing out their original curriculum before they begin the shift into new classroom material. This exciting new material will be centered on STEAM curriculum, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Andson will be at McCaw on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4:00 p.m. with seven teachers and one support staff. These CCSD certified instructors will be helping grades 2-5 with homework and will provide small group tutoring. After this academic portion, students are provided a meal by Three Square, and then participate in a self-selected enrichment activity. During these times, the tutors will also be encouraging students to participate in setting goals for themselves to track their progress throughout the tutoring.

Unique to McCaw Elementary is the School of Mines. Current principal, Jennifer Furman-Born took us on a short tour and proudly told us all about it. What started as a paper mache project in 1998 has turned into quite an attraction. Teacher Janet Bremer along with then principal, Janet Dobry shared this vision. Today, with the help of community partnerships, students all over the valley can experience a simulated mine and learn about Nevada mining and history.

For more info on the McCaw School of Mines, please visit www.mccawschoolofmines.org.

February's Tutor of the Month - DeAnn Sheehan

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By Hannah Moore

We are proud to highlight DeAnn Sheehan, a 30 year teacher from Goldfarb Elementary, as our February tutor of the month. If you were to make the transition between lands of lush green to vast lands of the desert, you’d be following a similar route that DeAnn took when she began her journey into education. Between traveling to complete her schooling, while at the same time exploring ancient wonders, DeAnn has experienced many different cultures, which have shaped who she is as an educator. “I especially enjoy visiting ruins and museums. My two favorite ruins that I have visited are Ephesus, Turkey and Pompeii, Italy. I would love to teach overseas when I retire,” she said.

DeAnn is originally from Olympia, Washington. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary/Special Education from Arizona State University, and then continued her studies at UNLV where she received a Master’s Degree in Education Administration. She has a son who attends UNLV and a lovely canine furry friend. DeAnn offers heartfelt advice to her students, gained from years of experience: “Work hard to accomplish your dreams!” DeAnn is an asset to be sought after for sure and fortunately her journey brought her to Andson!

January’s Tutor of the Month - Jessica Webb

If you have to squint while reading this, we understand. Jessica Webb’s megawatt smile is quite blinding. In fact, Ellen Bordinhao can’t remember ever seeing Jessica without it. “Jessica has never missed a day's work. She is a very thoughtful and caring individual, and that is why she is our Tutor of the Month!” said Bordinhao, Andson’s Academic Developer and former Principal of Elaine Wynn Elementary School. It is Jessica’s calm demeanor that helps her teach severely emotionally challenged high school students at Cimarron High. She has worked for CCSD for 7 years as a substitute teacher and is now a Special Education teacher. Jessica received her Bachelors Degree from Michigan State University and her Masters in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University.

Jessica moved to Las Vegas in 2007 from Detroit, Michigan, with her three children, now 9, 12, and 15 years old. “My children are my pride and joy!” she said. Jessica is active in her church, including the children's ministry, drama productions, and other youth activities. In between church functions, roller skating, and catching flicks with her children, Jessica still gives her precious time to others. She started as a tutor at Agassi Boys and Girls Club, running the Andson program at that location, and currently tutors at one of our Safekey sites, Staton Elementary School. “I have enjoyed working with Andson for the past two years and find it very rewarding to work with an organization with such purpose and vision. Every time I hear Ms. Sonia's story, it inspires me personally and professionally to never give up. I look forward to the expansion and growth in the years to come.”

With great tutors like Jessica Webb, we look forward to that too.

December's Tutor of the Month - Teresa Weir

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We are thrilled to honor December’s Tutor of the Month, Teresa Weir. Teresa hails from northern Alabama. After graduating college, she accepted a teaching job in Florida, where she worked for 25 years. It was Teresa’s father who inspired her to become a teacher. He was a biochemistry professor at a university and she would accompany him to his classroom on weekends. Her imagination ran away with her as she played with his lab equipment, pretending she had an audience. To this day, science is Teresa’s favorite subject.

We caught up with Teresa at Sunrise Library where Andson provides homework help and tutoring four days per week. The children gravitate toward her and really take in what she is offering them. “I think the tutoring program is invaluable, helping students get up to speed, gain confidence in learning, engage more effectively, and benefit from improved grades.“ she said, “I believe the tutors at Andson help students reach their full potential academically.”

Teresa is currently the Art Specialist at Sue Morrow Elementary School in Henderson. With hobbies in painting and ceramics and a love for science, what can’t Teresa do?

We are happy to have you, Teresa. Thank you for your dedication!

Andson Academics Aides: How Our Youth Pay it Forward

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by Nevena Cvijetic

Andson strives to empower students through education. There’s no better way to fulfill that mission than to hire high school students to assist our CCSD certified tutors! Ambitious high school students from all around the valley are working for Andson as Aides to help children with their homework. Andson gives these students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and empowers them to be great. At Lied Memorial Boys and Girls Club (BGC), there are four students from Clark High School making a positive impact in the lives of the BGC members. Three of these students, Chris Luu, Shannen Tan, and Miriam Villedis, are in the Teacher Education Academy at Clark High (TEACH). They bring their knowledge about classroom management, discipline, and creating interactive and engaging learning activities to Lied BGC, where they can implement what they’ve learned. The TEACH program trains high schools students to become efficient teachers in the future – they learn about communication, brain development, diverse ways of learning, curriculum and boundaries between education and the students, and methods and management of education. It’s wonderful to have positive young people our BGC students can look up to. The fourth student, Kevin Rodas, is part of the Clark High School Navy Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC). He uses his leadership training and math skills to assist students with their homework and areas of academics they are struggling in. We are proud to have such high-achieving high school students as part of our team!

November’s Tutor of the Month - Kimberly Sword

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Andson has the best tutors. We really do. And no one epitomizes that more than Kim Sword. Kim comes from Cleveland, Ohio, although having a dad in the Air Force took her all over. “Growing up as a “military brat”, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel the world and experience so many things. As a result, I strive to bring a world of experiences to my young learners,” she says. Teaching is a second career for Kimberly, her first being in corporate management. Kimberly currently works part time for Mad Science and teaches at Roundy Elementary School. Having a passion for young learners, Kim says, “I want math and science to come alive. I want stories to leap off the pages. I want kids to be excited and challenged by every learning opportunity.” There is no doubt that Kimberly is accomplishing these goals. Just take a look at the photos included!

Kimberly lives with her husband, two children, three dogs, two bunnies, and her many fish in Las Vegas. Kim, the kids are so lucky to have you, as are we!

SPOTLIGHT SITE - St. Jude's Ranch for Children

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November's Spotlight Site is St Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City, NV. We chose St. Jude'sdue to their strong commitment to our community and the dedication of their hard-working staff. St Jude’s Ranch is a nonprofit organization that provides a safe haven for children who are victims of abuse, abandonment and homelessness. Children arrive at St. Jude’s struggling to keep up with their peers in school and are sometimes as much as two years behind where they should be academically. Andson was grateful for the opportunity to partner with St Jude’s Ranch and this is what Christine Spadafor, St Jude’s Ranch CEO, had to say about Andson: “Our partnership with the Andson Organization has miraculously helped these children catch up and be competitive in school, and be able to stand toe to toe with their peers academically. With Andson, they have consistent tutors who work closely with the school system, and seeing the same people week after week in helping to reestablish that trust, only furthers help enhance their success in school. Prior to the Ranch’s partnership with Andson, we struggled to find a consistent, effective tutoring program for our children, and Andson is the perfect partner for us.”

To see more, please watch the short video below:

Andson Brings Martha Speaks to the YMCA

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Andson has kicked off it’s Summer Reading Program at the YMCA! This wonderful program gets kids reading and eliminates learning loss during the summer. Often, low-performing readers are offered little opportunity to improve their reading skills outside the classroom once the school year has ended. Andson, in partnership with Vegas PBS, has brought Martha Speaks to the Y! Martha Speaks is an animated children’s television series that focuses on building vocabulary. Kids will watch and discuss each episode, then apply the words they learned, both orally, and in writing.

Sonia Anderson, Andson’s CEO, was featured yesterday on Fox 5 More Show, live from the Durango YMCA. “To see a first grader tell you what “amazing”, “incredible,” and “stupendous” means is really amazing, incredible, and stupendous, and this is something Andson is able to bring to them,” she said.

The program is offered to children ages 5-7 at the following YMCA locations: Centennial Hills Community Center Durango Hills Community Center Bill & Lillie Heinrich YMCA SkyView Multi-Generational Center

Dear Friends, (Jan 2014)

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Dear Friends: All of us at Andson, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the Very Best for 2014.  We are so very proud of the many milestones we reached in 2013.  And we thank all of our Supporters and Partners who helped us accomplish each of them.  We are looking forward to continually working together to deliver our much-needed programs to students across the valley.

We kicked off the New Year with the most amazing party for our team of Board Members, Tutors, Admin Staff and our Community Partners on January 11, 2014.  A heartfelt Thank You to Southern Highlands Golf Club and Southern Wine and Spirits for their incredibly generous contributions, support and partnership.

On New Year’s Eve 2013, we launched our new website powered by Larym Design.  Please do take the time to visit and re-visit it, as it is being continually updated with additional details of our activities and services in Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City.

Throughout the month of January, our Academic Team will be busy conducting our very own Aims Web Testing for our hundreds of registered students, while continually streamlining and structuring the Homework Help and Tutoring at our eleven locations in Clark County.

At the same time our Financial Literacy Team will be delivering January’s Financial Literacy Lessons to all 25 classrooms at Bracken Elementary School.  We continually strive to utilize the most current materials, so lessons are revised on an ongoing basis. We thank our partners, United Way’s YPS, Silver State Schools Credit Union, and Bracken Elementary School for this successful collaboration.

Additionally, the Team is gearing up to start the second series of our Financial Literacy Workshops at Desert Oasis High School in the latter part of January.  Approximately 1,200 juniors and seniors will benefit from these lessons.

Early February, the Academic Team will launch our Homework Help and Tutoring Program at Sunrise Acres Elementary School through the City of Las Vegas.  We are eagerly looking forward to launching a new pilot of our supplemental after school assistance to the students at that location.

Taking on yet another challenge, we are currently developing a GED preparatory curriculum, which will be deployed early this spring.  Through a partnership with St. Jude's Ranch for Children, this program will serve young adults currently in transitional housing and/or aging out of the foster care system.

Again, thank you all for continued support, and for making 2013 an incredible year of success.  Together we will make 2014 an even better year!

 

Fondly,

Sonia

Andson Academics Launches AIMSweb Assessment Program

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In order to more accurately and effectively monitor the progress of our students, Andson Academics has incorporated the usage of the AIMSweb assessment and diagnostics software into our Academic Support program for the 2013-2014 school year. This tool allows us to benchmark and progress monitor our students to further diagnose the exact areas in which they need the most attention.  AIMSweb also gives us the capability to compare our students’ progress to state and national norms much more easily.

Many schools across the country, including Clark County School District, have begun integrating this software into their assessment processes, and most of our tutors are already very familiar with the system.  Using the AIMSweb software gives the Andson Academics program a unique advantage over other tutoring programs in southern Nevada.

We are very excited about what this means for our program and the enhanced support that our students will receive with the implementation of this software.

More locations and new initiatives for the new school year

We are excited to report that Andson's Homework Help and Tutoring program has kicked off another year with more locations and some new initiatives! We are on track to have an estimated 1,200 students at 15 sites (anticipated by the end of this year) receiving Homework Help and approximately 500 students receiving small group tutoring assistance. Over the past two years we have done lots of things right. We have put close to 1,000 students on a path to success, benefitting from our free Homework Help and tutoring programs. We have partnered with amazing organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Communities In Schools and After School All Stars. Our tutored students improve their performance an average of one to two grade levels in all academic areas! We have lots to be proud of!

We want to do even better! Providing meaningful and much needed academic support to more students in interesting and individualized ways is always the goal. Based on feedback from parents, tutors and community partners, we have identified two major areas of improvement this year:

1) Homework Help activities will be more fun, engaging and productive. We are really structuring our locations and separating kids by grade and ability levels while offering incentives and prizes to those who complete their homework correctly. We are providing new and better books and will be introducing educational games as a way to instill a lifelong love of learning.

2) Tutoring groups will be smaller, allowing Andson tutors to really hone in on student needs and develop Individualized Learning Plans. This personalized approach to student needs along with a new system of periodic academic assessments, progress monitoring and benchmarking will help assure that no child falls behind in school.

Overall, at this early stage in the school year, our Tutors and staff are busily working hand in hand to assess, monitor and track student progress. Getting to know our students has been a blast. Stay tuned for more updates…

 

The Importance of Graduating High School

Generally, higher FCAT achievement, low absenteeism, grade promotion, low dropout rates, and less interaction with the juvenile justice system have all been associated with a higher likelihood of completing high school, which has significant effects on the individual and taxpayers in general. High school graduates earn higher salaries on average than those who do not graduate from high school, which benefits them directly, and also translates to indirect benefits to the economy as a whole by increased discretionary spending capacity, higher tax collections, and lower social program costs. UNEMPLOYMENT High school graduates are less likely to face unemployment and depend on government assistance relative to those that did not complete high school. The latest unemployment rate data available for various degrees of educational attainment shows that the unemployment rate was 4.4 percentage points more severe for those who did not complete high school, and the unemployment rate drops for each higher level of educational achievement. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 9.2 percent of the working poor in 2010, were high school graduates with no further degree of educational attainment, whereas 21.4 percent of the working poor had no high school diploma.

Those who are considered the working poor are much more likely to utilize taxpayer-funded assistance programs. Nationally, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, 43.2 percent of Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) recipients did not have 12 years of formal education. According to the DOE Annual Outcomes Report, of the 2009-10 group measured, 45 percent of those receiving public assistance were high school dropouts.

POVERTY Recent data shows that the poverty rate for those with less than a high school diploma was 28.4 percent, as compared to 16.1 percent for those who completed high school. Poverty rates are lower for the population with higher and advanced degrees.

OVERALL ECONOMIC IMPACT According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the cost of Grade Retention nationally was over $34.8 billion in 2009 for grades K–8.

For every 10 students not held back in any given year, taxpayers realize a total cost avoidance of at least $92,100 per year Students who successfully complete high school are significantly more likely to have a better future and thus give back to society. According to the U.S. Census, on average, persons with a high school diploma or the equivalent earn approximately $7,270 more (or 42.3 percent) per year than those without a high school diploma.

Applying the Census figures on average wages from above, each FBGC participant that graduates from high school will have additional lifetime earnings of $290,800, assuming a 40-year career, compared to non-high school graduates. These career earnings are made even more possible without the barriers to employment that a criminal background brings an individual. Assuming that 100 individuals at risk of not completing high school would actually graduate, the expected aggregate lifetime earnings increase for these 100 graduates over their career is $29,080,000.

 (Taken from the Florida Tax Watch)

Andson Academics needed! Tutoring Landscape Changes for 2013-14

As we wrap up our Summer Reading Program, our amazing Back 2 Class Bash and approach this new school year - our services are proving to be more valuable to Southern Nevada than ever before. The reality is, as state funding to schools and other entities to provide academic support dwindles, there are less organizations providing tutoring and academic support Andson Academics - which makes our role even more critical.A recent article from Education Week reports:

Many companies that once provided supplemental education services, or tutoring mandated at academically struggling schools under the No Child Left Behind law, are now scrambling to find new streams of income, or have already closed their doors, in the past year. Steve Pines, president of the Education Industry Association, said that at its peak several years ago, about 2,500 companies and other organizations were approved to work with students using supplement-services funding allocated to improve students' academic performance. About half of the state-approved providers are "commercial entities," according to Pines. Other providers are a mix of school districts themselves, followed by community and faith-based organizations. Today, Pines estimates that the number of organizations providing those services has dropped by 50 percent.

 

Andson did think at one point that we may apply for some of these various funding sources, but we never have. All of our funding has come from Sonia's initial investment. That said, we are focused this year on securing new, creative ways of funding our programming to make sure our commitment to Southern Nevada can continue for years to come. Our extremely supportive Board has clearly made "thinking outside the box," a general principle in regard to garnering support for an initiative for this upcoming year.

 

With new agreements with the City of Las Vegas for SAFEKEY locations, our 9 other locations through Boys & Girls Clubs, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, and Communities in Schools as well as interest from various other community partners - this is only our beginning. This school year we have agreed to 13 total sites, with two additional sites in discussion.

 

Although we have a business background and can apply some very atypical strategies to fundraising, programming and curriculum, we continue to passionately operate Andson as the organization it is - one truly committed to our community. We are focused, and ready for this school year!

Are we the new Life Coach for kids?

When we go out and promote Andson to a possible partner or client (aka parents and kids) we try to convey the dynamic of mentorship in all our activities. The reason we are so good at what we do is because there is no off-the-shelf program for our youth - we must connect with them in 2013 and meet them where they're at.  

That said, more and more parents (and adults in general) are extremely aware of the lack of life skills that our students and youth receive these days. It's enough to spark the conversation of where these skills can be best curated - home or school, parents or teachers. That's a different article entirely, however.

 

What I am realizing more and more is that Andson, through providing academic support and performance programs, financial literacy programs etc., isn't just about facilitating curriculum - it's about motivation of young people through our passion.

 

What we're building here for Southern Nevada is a whole lot more than any program. I'm starting to feel that we are life coaches for K-12. That is, we can inspire, motivate, reward and see how many of the 4,000 students we've impacted this past year succeed through the seeds we plant.

 

Just look at what we're doing at the Back 2 Class Bash with Raising Canes and the TEAching stand. Yes, it's a beta program - this is the first run at it. We're not looking at this simply as an entrepreneurial lesson, however. Andson is teaching the concept of volunteerism and taking the money smarts you learn through business back to your own personal finances. This lesson is geared toward middle schoolers to learn through immersion.

 

Whether it's receiving a letter that a high school student is now teaching their mother about banking, or having an elementary student run into one of our tutoring locations to show us their report card, our programs are creating an element of motivation in young people that really parodies what you see out of these adult life coaching programs.

 

This is a service economy, and we certainly provide a service. Through our continuing passion, however, we are providing more than any single program ever can.

Summer Reading 2013

Andson Academics is partnering with Vegas PBS to encourage children to stay engaged in learning  throughout the summer break. Running at 10 different sites, students K-4 are building vocabulary skills around the exciting adventures of Martha Speaks! These are the new words that children have learned over the last couple of weeks:

Extraordinary, Stupendous, Talent, Unique Hero, Rescue, Brave, Courageous Fantasy, Real, Pretend, Actually Remedy, Recuperate, Healthy, Cure

Kids not only enjoy watching the Martha Speaks episodes but also sharing some of questions they would ask their pets if they could answer...

Do you like to take baths? If you were a fish, would you wear clothes? Do you want a friend because you are always alone at the house?

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Learn, Act, Learn - Financial Literacy gets rethought for High School Students

Andson Academics has become our flagship service - a tutoring program that scales well, serves our communities, and creates partnerships and collective impact. The Academic Assistance model is constantly attended to - we take pride in the tweaks that make the program better and better.  

That said, Financial Literacy has really taken off as a core component of what we do here at Andson. This past year was absolutely pivotal in the way we view and develop our Financial Literacy curriculums.  Nearly 2,000 unique students in 2012-2013 have already been directly reached by our Financial Literacy programming.

 

What we learned from the Piggybank Project at Bracken Elementary was that it's not about just one workshop of programming - not a five to eight week period. Rather, Andson's role in 2013 is to carry a student through multiple iterations of curicula. We start at the Kindergarten grade level and work our way through 5th grade. It was an amazing program that will really prove its effectiveness as we see this year's 1st graders all the way through their elementary graduation.

 

So, we started thinking, how can we accomplish the same at the High School level? How do we start with tiered curriculum, one that strengthens impact with every year until graduation?

 

What we've developed is a new way of looking at our high school students' needs. This is no longer a few weeks of interaction - this is about implementation over 3+ years.

 

At the Sophomore level, we explain the importance of grades, volunteerism in our community, and understanding needs vs. wants.

 

At the Junior level, we begin to plant the seed of the importance of education on future earning potential, and how to creatively fund your college education.

 

At the Senior level - we give them the full Andson curriculum, working with them for a greater understanding of personal finance.

What we estimate is that nearly half of the students we start with, we get to work with in their Senior year. For the others (due to transiency rate, etc) they will have seeds planted that they would not have otherwise experienced. This model is a complete work in progress - we've written some grant requests and hope to start this with Communities in Schools in the 2013-14 school year at Chaparral High Sschool.

Andson is committed to the idea of "Learn, Act, Learn" - no two schools or years should ever be exactly alike. Our materials have always, and will always cater to the student. This is how we personally can guarantee the greatest possible impact through our Financial Literacy workshops.