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WAVE for Success

July 11, 2011

Bruce Pollock

Since founding Friends of Educational Excellence (FREE) Partnerships Ive read a lot of books about urban education and how people become successful. Two of my favorite books are: Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In all the books Ive read there are consistent themes about how people become successful: they are given a chance, people help them, and they work really, really hard. Over the past year I tried to boil down all that Ive learned into a simple message that kids in school can understand. Here it is: students need to WAVE for Success.

Im a substitute teacher in the Rochester City School District and I can tell you that this message resonates with students. Recently in a second grade class I told the students that to be successful in school, they need to WAVE for Success. I explained that W stands for Work Hard, A stands for having a positive Attitude, V stands for Vision, and E stands for Enthusiastic Commitment. I asked the kids to take the WAVE for Success pledge:

WAVE for Success Pledge

W = Work Hard: I will work hard

A = a positive Attitude: I believe in myself. I can do this.

V = Vision: I know where I'm going

E = Enthusiastic commitment: I am strong. I will work hard enough to be successful

Later in the morning I had three worksheets for them to complete. After working on the first two worksheets, I asked who wanted the third worksheet. My request was met with subtle groans. I reminded them that they needed to WAVE for Success and work hard to be successful in school. I asked again and many hands shot up to get the third worksheet.

There are two main schools in a young persons life: Home and the public school system. We all know that in urban school districts the first school, Home, is weaker than in the suburbs due to poverty, low adult literacy, and cultural legacies. Teachers in urban public schools have a much harder job than in the suburbs because the first school is weaker. City school students have a much harder path to take in the public schools since their first school is weaker. The bottom-line is that city school students need to work harder and they need help to do it. All the adults around them need to reinforce this message and set the expectation that kids must work hard to be successful. This means all students need to do their homework every night; read books, lot of books; finish all their assignments on time; and understand that graduating from high school is not an option they must graduate from high school to be successful in life. That should be every students vision.

FREE Partnerships supports community school partnerships that bring volunteers into Rochester city schools to help students succeed in school. The main focus is tutoring major skills (reading, writing, and math). FREE Partnerships volunteers support teachers to implement the RCSD Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative, a program to help underperforming students get to grade level. Volunteers also assist teachers to provide differentiated instruction for students. In other words, volunteers help students to work harder. In addition, when a volunteer comes every week they become a positive adult role model and provide mentoring for students too. FREE Partnerships volunteers tell students they need to WAVE for Success!

If youd like to become a volunteer in a Rochester city elementary school to help students succeed in school, please email me at or call me at 585-218-0038. Bless You!