Going the extra mile for students

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Guess what I did this past Saturday?” I ask my AP students. Their guesses are wildly wrong.

“I woke up at 4 a.m.” I say amidst their groans, “and I drove to Decatur where I taught AP Language to students from Austin High School.”

Explaining that one reason I’m willing to give up a Saturday for Decatur’s students is so that my students can enjoy a stellar teacher at their upcoming Saturday study session brings silence to the room.  While it’s tough to give up a September Saturday morning, I remind my students that they’ll earn $100 dollars per AP qualifying score in May.  As a parent whose third child is starting college, I remind these juniors that they’ll also earn two classes by meeting their college’s requirements.  At most state schools, those two classes cost over $1,000 each.

Reminding the students that Pelham High School’s acceptance into the A+ College Ready grant comes at the perfect time for them is a surprise. The grant lasts only three years so the PHS Class of ’19 is fortunate to be eligible for prize money for both their junior and senior AP classes.

Finally, I remind the students that those who come to extra study sessions usually make qualifying scores. With one Saturday study session in September and another in March, this is a tough sell; however, I teach argumentation—and I plan to win this audience.

“My students requested a Saturday session the weekend before the test last year,” I share. “Some students who had to work Saturday asked for a Sunday session. I taught both. Students who went the extra mile passed.”

Reluctance begins to subside as students ask about Saturday study session dress code and entry doors.

“Can we bring snacks?” Anna Grace Hall asks.

“There’s a free snack between sessions,” I say, “usually—it’s biscuits.”

“I’m there!” Hall says. Echoes of affirmation abound.

On Saturday, 32 of my 41 students were present for AP study sessions—and biscuits.

Whether persuasion or biscuits brought them to school on a Saturday morning, this group’s work ethic is inspiring.