Back in 2010, when I had been teaching high school Social Studies for eight years, I decided to intervene with my underperforming students in a different way.
I had set up websites, engaged kids in blogging, projects, Socratic seminars, and visual and kinetic learning, but I decided to do something different that year.
I planned ahead for the Third Quarter, when everything is a mess: all the best laid plans come apart during the Third Quarter, and I wanted a reset for my kids who were struggling.
I had watched the students and their habits, and I realized that high performing students were always thinking about school, in and out of it, and the kids who weren't getting good grades were either avoiding thinking about school or didn't know how. I realized that some kids hadn't thought about my class since they had walked out the door the day before. My goal was to break into their thought processes, raise their awareness, and get them thinking about school outside of school.
The plan was simple: I asked my under-performers to come by after school every day to review what was due that day and what's due the next.
These simple conversations yielded incredible results: grades skyrocketed. Having articulated their assignments daily, students took ownership of them. B's and C's became As and Bs, and others who had felt stuck with Ds and Fs found themselves with C's, B's, and even A's.
The kids themselves called it "The A+ Club"
Those quick, after school discussions grew into the A+ Club that has since helped middle, high school and college students across the USA raise their academic awareness, develop academic ownership and self-advocacy, and get better grades.
Based upon that experience, I quit teaching in order to run the A+ Club as independent academic support program available to all students and families, not just those in my classroom. The A+ Club was launched at an open house event at Gallery Place in Washington, DC., and started out the school year with about five students. By the end of the school year, we had served about 35 students, and with fantastic results.
Since then, we have helped over 300 students and their families in over a dozen states to navigate middle, high school and college and for the students to find academic success and the opportunities that open for them with it. We are proud to say our month-to-month client retention rate has been tremendous - over 94%, which means that parents and students find great value in what we do.
There's nothing more gratifying than to watch kids take ownership of their academics and to find their own academic success. While it's great to see a child make honor roll for the first time, or for a parent to get a huge discount on car insurance because the child got a B average, we love nothing more than for our students to just do better in school. We help them feel in control of their school work for the first time, and show them how it can be done.
While not every student we work with will get on the honor roll, every student who engages our system will develop greater academic and personal awareness
Building the team
Joining us in late 2012, Our office manager, Megan, holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Maryland.
And she applies her deep and learned empathy for her fellow kind in all her work with our students and families.
Megan works tirelessly and enthusiastically for our students. She developed and runs our assignments and grades oversight program which advises students and parents twice a week. Kids love Megan!
Megan additionally developed our essay review service which significantly assisted our students, including to help some of them graduate from high school.
Our program works because we match experienced, caring educators with students for weekly reflection and goal setting conversations. Our teachers are amazing! They are full time classroom teachers who love the mentoring side of teaching, and the A+ Club gives them the opportunity to work wite fh students as a pure mentor -- and not as a teacher or counselor or authoritarian adult. They are pure advocates for our students, and the students know it.
We have also developed a team of college graduate and undergraduate student tutors who work with our students for what we call "content tutoring." Mostly engineering and education students, they are expert at their subjects, compassionate and caring, and dedicated to helping out our students.
Many thanks for joining us, and we hope to be of service to you.
August 2013, updated May 2014, updated May 2016