Collaboration with college, bonus for school district

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

This year marks the third year that LaGrange College has collaborated with Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy, Inc., by allowing its students to provide SAT and ACT tutoring to students enrolled in our local school district. 

For the record, more than 200 local, public school students have been tutored over this period.  For readers who are not familiar with how the program began, it started with LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar meeting with Greater Achievement representatives on several occasions to discuss community stakeholders who should be involved in such an undertaking. 

Dekmar ultimately facilitated a meeting which included the local college president, Dr. Dan McAlexander, representatives from the local school district and Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy Inc. to address the performance of students on the SAT/ACT. During the meeting, it was quickly recognized that such a program would be beneficial to public school students interested in expanding and improving the opportunity of their being accepted in a college or university of their choice.

Unfortunately, in LaGrange, the problem also included the fact that only 78 percent of students were graduating from high school.

Hosting the SAT/ACT tutoring in LaGrange is not without precedence. Some years ago, a similar pilot was launched in a metro-Atlanta high school known for violence, not academics. A collaboration was established between the school and students from Georgia Tech. Before the pilot, not more than four students in the school each year, would score 1000 or more on the SAT. College students for three months, tutored 32 students in a lab environment. The results shocked the city. More than 18 students scored 1000 or more on the SAT. The environment and culture of the school changed almost immediately. Entertainers and celebrities such as former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, began to visit the school. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and other major media reported on the success of the pilot. The school also became an incubator for grooming inner city principals. The principal, William Shepard, was invited to major universities such as Harvard and Oxford of England to discuss his success in providing an education to inner city students.

The collaboration with LaGrange College, under Dr. McAlexander’s leadership has also been successful. Inquiries about the tutoring program have come from the major print media such as the New York Times. The tutoring is provided for 6.5 hours each Saturday over a six-week period, beginning this year on the 16th of September. During the first year, 47 students took the exams after being tutored by students from the college. Most of the students improved their performance on the tests. One student, by more than 90 points. These kinds of scores enabled and empowered students to be admitted to the United States Military Academy-West Point, Tuskegee University, John Hopkins University and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, to name a few. Great things are happening in LaGrange. The SAT/ACT tutoring program is one of them.