Caring & Engaging Schools: Partnering with Family and Community to Unlock the Potential of High School Students in Poverty reviews the consequences of our failure to effectively address the needs of low-income students, given the poverty-related struggles that impede academic learning, personal growth, and ultimately positive life outcomes. The author integrates her experiences as an English teacher at "Northwood High School" (a pseudonym) with educational research, to portray the major stumbling blocks of schooling from the perspective of disadvantaged high school youth. As a result of their struggles, youth suffer three major losses and deficits: loss of hope for the future, disengagement from schooling, and impaired socioemotional well-being. Their struggles are also described in the context of impaired or neglected relationships among the major stakeholders of public high school education: school, family, and community.
Various aspects of the traditional high school are reviewed to show the limited improvements of the last several decades for our low-income students; these are followed by glimpses of educational processes that enable learning to become truly student-centered for our youth. A strengths-based, whole-child education model called "Caring & Engaging Schools" is presented as the solution; the model comprises a palette of solutions already working in high-poverty schools and communities around the nation. One theme unites these strategies: a "marriage of true minds," the metaphor describing the school and the family relationship, supported by community members. Strengthening school/family/community partnerships reengages economically disadvantaged high school students in academic learning and, more broadly, in their transitions into adult roles. The framework consists of components (three positive mindsets and talent development) and contexts (mental health/wellbeing and socioeconomic integration) that will enable low-income high school students to reengage in learning.
The "Caring & Engaging Schools" framework enables us to consider a multitude of resources, programs, and funding methods that can disrupt the adverse effects of poverty on youth's educational and life outcomes. These strategies help establish supportive learning structures and social environments that particularly help youth in poverty thrive. The strengths-based, whole-child approach to public education will help our young people soar in their academic and nonacademic lives. Thus, the model provides strategies to help us achieve educational equity for all children, while reminding us of the return on investment that awaits our entire society once we all agree to value the true potential of public education and to enlist all stakeholders in the systemic reform we so desperately need.
Essie B. Hill, Ed.D., is a veteran educator and education advocate who has dedicated her life to the growth and development of youth. A public high school educator for over 20 years, she taught in the South and Midwest in both high- and low-performing schools.
Because of her passion for education and academic excellence, Dr. Hill maintains an active role in numerous local and national educational initiatives. These include the promotion of public education legislative priorities (state and local) and partnering globally with various organizations to promote the educational development of children in poverty.
Her certifications across several states include teaching and administration, in addition to life, leadership, and talent management coaching. She holds a Master's in Educational Administration from Northeastern Illinois University and a Doctorate of Education in Instructional Leadership from Argosy University.
Dr. Hill maintains that education is transformative as a means to close gaps in both achievement and socioemotional well-being. She also sees major implications for national and global economies. Her beliefs stem from her own direct experience: At several points during the first 23 years of her life, she lived near, at, or below the federal poverty level. She is part of the first generation in her family to attend college, and strongly identifies with the struggles of today's economically impoverished students.
She attributes her own successful emergence from poverty to positive school experiences, exposure to new resources and opportunities, and the immeasurable gift of caring and supportive relationships. Her own life, together with the struggles of her high school students, prompted the research that led her to the Caring & Engaging Schools model described in this book.
Dr. Hill is president and founder of Actuate Development Company in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area, where she offers coaching, curriculum, and training services focusing on education, leadership, and workforce/workplace issues.
About the Author
PART I: The Struggle with Educational Inequity
CHAPTER 1: MY STARTING POINT: NORTHWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
CHAPTER 2: WHAT IS THE "MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS"?
CHAPTER 3: RESULTS OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS
CHAPTER 4: WHAT POVERTY LOOKS LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL: LOSS OF HOPE
CHAPTER 5: WHAT POVERTY LOOKS LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL: DISENGAGEMENT
CHAPTER 6: WHAT POVERTY LOOKS LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL: IMPAIRED WELL-BEING
PART II: Synergy Toward a Solution
CHAPTER 7: RESTARTING: BEYOND FAILED TRADITION
CHAPTER 8: THE CARING & ENGAGING SCHOOLS MODEL
CHAPTER 9: INTERRELATED MINDSETS THAT REENGAGE STUDENTS: HOPE
CHAPTER 10: INTERRELATED MINDSETS THAT REENGAGE STUDENTS: GROWTH
CHAPTER 11: INTERRELATED MINDSETS THAT REENGAGE STUDENTS: SENSE OF PURPOSE
CHAPTER 12: TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: SELF-REGULATED LEARNING
CHAPTER 13: TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: TAPPING INTO TALENTS
CHAPTER 14: TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: EMBEDDED LEARNING
CHAPTER 15: THE CONTEXT OF WELL-BEING: SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTHCARE TO BENEFIT ALL STUDENTS
CHAPTER 16: BUILDING A SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
CHAPTER 17: THE CONTEXT OF SOCIOECONOMIC INTEGRATION: SCHOOL DESEGREGATION TO BENEFIT ALL STUDENTS
CHAPTER 18: SURMOUNTING BARRIERS TO SOCIOECONOMIC INTEGRATION
CHAPTER 19: MAKING SYSTEMIC REFORM HAPPEN
CHAPTER 20: THE STAGE IS SET FOR THE PLAYERS