Golden Apple: Pequot Lakes Middle School Incorporates REACH Program
The REACH program is all about strengthening student motivation through relationships, effort, aspirations, cognition and heart.
“It’s a lot more than MCA scores, GPA and ACT scores,” said Pequot Lakes Middle School Principal Mike O’Neil. “At the middle level we have a great turning point in a kid’s development and we can also focus on some really important skills like character.”
The REACH curriculum transforms regular coursework and assignments into a more personal experience for the students.
“Sparks are something that gets you going, something that you get really excited about,” said seventh grade math teacher Grace Balfanz. “For example, in Math, if I find out that someone really loves hunting, I can incorporate that into my lesson and get them excited about the math lesson because there are sparks incorporated in there.”
A survey at the beginning on the year gave the seventh grade students the opportunity to share their interests.
“So, the teachers have been talking more about what we like to do and we do a lot of discussion about it,” said student Quinn Trottier. “We talk about what we wrote down and other kids too. It’s kind of cool to get to know what the other kids like to do which we usually don’t get to see.”
It’s a positive change that students are noticing in the classroom.
“Now you feel a little better about yourself and you can talk to people about what you like and stuff like that,” seventh grader Tristen Hoffard said.
The students also participate weekly in some other activities that get them thinking about gratitude.
“So often, we stress on the curriculum, get through the curriculum and practice for the MCAs,” Balfanz said. “Whereas schools shouldn’t just be about get through the curriculum, it should be about making the kids who they should be for the rest of their lives, make them good citizens. This REACH program really helps us focus on the good qualities of a person and who you should be as a person.”
It helps during this crucial period in a student’s life that will help them move on in education and eventually the workforce.