The College Lift Initiative Completes Its First Semester
On January 20th, 2018,
The Piedmont Renewal Network launched the inaugural semester of the College Lift Initiative (CLI) with a small "Beta Cohort" of ten 6th graders from Philo Hill Magnet Academy in Winston-Salem. The manageable size of this group allowed our team to test the concept of CLI and experiment with best practice, all while propelling a group of worthy 6th graders towards a brighter future.
On the first day of class, we made it clear to this Beta Cohort that we would refer to them not as students, but as "Scholars." This seven year academic course would be difficult, but as CLI Scholars they would need to demonstrate the will to carry on as the weeks, months, and years progressed. As CLI Scholars they would have to choose, time and again, to be excellent instead of merely good enough. Most of all, being a CLI Scholar means a continual acknowledgment of self worth. We as teachers and administrators would not be working alongside of them for seven years so that someday they could be somebody, but because we believe that they are somebody. We know that our Scholars are worth fighting for, and to be successful the Scholars must have the courage to acknowledge that themselves.
We were not disappointed. As the semester progressed, we were both humbled and inspired by the tenacity of our Scholars and the commitment of their parents. Week after week, these families showed up for class at 8:00 AM on their Saturday mornings, focused not on the inconvenience, but on the opportunity at hand. As the weeks turned into months, friendships that otherwise would have probably never existed began to grow between our team and the families we were serving. Though we had very different backgrounds, we all had one thing in common: an unending desire to see these Scholars succeed.
We are excited to report that by semester's end, we had maintained 100% retention of the Beta Cohort, with all of our CLI Scholars and their families planning to continue the journey this fall. While the Piedmont Renewal Network will not have access to student data such as End of Grade (EOG) test scores until the fall, our Scholars did show noticeable, data supported signs of improvement in the first semester alone. The success of our first CLI Scholars and their families has prepared the Piedmont Renewal Network to officially roll out CLI full scale, with a new cohort of about forty 6th graders coming in this fall.
We could not be more proud of our first CLI Scholars, who will now be moving up to 7th grade with us. This small group of rising 7th graders and their parents have paved the way for dozens more families to undertake the same hope-filled journey this fall. As the years pass by and the cohorts grow, this small group of courageous families from Philo Hill will always hold a special place in our hearts.