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Aspirations

March 20, 2005

The Aspirations Program is in full swing as we work with 8th grade students at camp and at the same time, a team of Kieve LDI teachers go out to high schools to help freshman students work towards their college goals.

The week of March 7-11 was a true test of the high school curriculum and the effectiveness of Kieve's teaching staff. Freshman students from Georges Valley High School in Thomaston, Maine and Hall-Dale High School in Hallowell, Maine did not attend regular classes. Instead they traveled with their Advisors and classmates to attend Aspirations classes facilitated by Kieve LDI teachers.

There are several goals in the LDI Aspiration's high school curriculum. The main goal of the program is to increase the concrete steps students take to educate themselves about postsecondary education. Another is to review goal setting guidelines learned from their classes in LDI. And third, Kieve teachers want to build upon those lessons by starting a dialogue about long-term goals, specifically postsecondary options.

Emily Davis, Guidance Counselor at Georges Valley, has been an enthusiastic advocate for the Aspirations program and its possibilities. At Georges Valley, during the MEA testing week, each class has 'something' that they do. Sophomores have a three-day Sophomore Awareness assembly about drugs, alcohol and other types of risky behaviors. The junior class takes the MEA test, a mandatory test for 4th, 8th, and 11th grade students. The senior class works on their portfolios and presentations for graduation. Each class has their activity that gives them more information about life outside of school, except the freshman.

The Aspirations Program has a niche at Georges Valley because it is 'the thing' for the Freshman Class. Emily sees the benefit to her as the Guidance Counselor and to the advisors of the students as an opportunity to really get to know the students, their needs, and their interests. Much of the work that Kieve has done with the students has generated great conversations about what options the students think they have. The activities have also challenged the students to think about the value of all postsecondary choices.

At Hall-Dale High School, the Kieve Aspirations Program was welcomed with open arms. Hall-Dale High School is a Promising Futures school, which means that the school receives money from the Gates Foundation to think of creative ways to address all types of learning styles through curriculum changes, structural changes and schedule changes. As part of the Hall-Dale High School Promising Future plan, Kieve was already on the blueprint for change. Therefore, Kieve had no trouble scheduling two days to work with the Hall-Dale High School freshman class.

The session concluded with a speaker, Daryl Forte, Senior Policy Analyst for Governor Baldacci. He addressed the crowd of 109 students and their advisors. During his interactive and humorous talk, Daryl shared his own story of moving to Maine, growing up in Bangor and playing football for University of Maine at Orono. Working towards a degree in Physics, Daryl volunteered to work on a campaign and became hooked on politics. He has now worked for Governor Baldacci for 12 years.

The students immediately felt connected to Daryl because of his interest in football and because he now lived and worked in the same community as the students. More importantly, he showed them that success happens when you follow your gut and have the courage to change your direction as needed.

For more information about the Aspirations Program, contact Amy Lyndaker at leadershipschool@kieve.org .

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