School of Technology investing in students’ lives

Math teacher Larry Tew encourages his students during a class at the School of Technology on Sept. 10. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

COLUMBIANA — Every Friday, School of Technology faculty members wear their green T-shirts to remind each other of the school’s continuing mission.

On the front, the T-shirt reads: “Count me in!” On the back, “Investing in individuals.” The shirts encourage all in the school’s community to make the extra effort to reach out to those around them, even if it’s just a pat on the back or a phone call to check on a student who’s not in class.

Principal Tim Elliff said the idea means so much to school officials, they chose to start the Investing in Individuals program based on the concept.

“We kept coming back to the issues of attendance, discipline and academic performance. We kept thinking, ‘What can we do to attack all these problems with one program?’” Elliff said.

At the end of the first four and a half weeks of school, faculty will identify students who are showing warning signs of academic, discipline or attendance issues.

The school has started a database where teachers can keep notes on such students to let others know what to watch out for. For example, if a struggling student must suddenly deal with a death in the family, a teacher can give other staff members a heads up.

“I think that’s the most important thing, that we’re all on the same page,” said Mandy Kirk, a counselor at the school. “A lot of times, a teacher will know a lot about a child, but other teachers will know nothing about that child.”

Teachers and peer leaders, such as student government officers, will also be assigned to struggling students to offer words of encouragement while pushing them to do well.

“For students to be successful, someone’s got to hold them accountable,” Elliff said. “The students don’t have anyone, or they don’t think they know anyone, who will push them.”

He said such students need to get support any way they can.

“There may not be the support from home they need. We’re trying to attack it from all sides, and if there is support at home, we’ll get mom and dad involved too,” Elliff said. “Hopefully, we’re letting these kids know somebody cares.”

The school is looking for local citizens and businesspeople to be mentors as well. For more information, contact Tim Elliff at 682-6650.