We aim to serve all of our students as holistically as possible. We recognize that academic problems rarely have academic causes, and therefore aim to meet all of our students’ needs and interests. Our approach features four pillars of programming:
1: Comprehensive one-to-one near-peer mentoring
Each of our students is paired one-to-one with a college student from one of our partner colleges. They are paired such that mentees and mentors are in the same stage of their respective educations (9th grade mentees are paired with college freshmen, 10th grade mentees with college sophomores, etc.) so that the pairs stay in tact for the rest of the mentee’s high school career. The continuity of the mentoring relationship is key to each student’s success.
Our students meet one-on-one with their mentors once per week, but in reality, they end up spending much more time together. During their meetings, students work on their academic coursework, exploring college and career options, and discussing other issues that come up in their daily lives. Because of the incredibly strong bond that our students build with their mentors, they are more likely to share their biggest dreams and concerns with their mentors than they are to share them with anyone else. Our mentors are always most in-tune with which services, programs, and resources to which their mentees most need to be referred, and help extraordinarily in connecting their mentees to these resources.
2: Academic support and enrichment
We have a word that we ban in our classrooms: “pass”. That word is antithetical to our goals for our students. We aim for our students to do as well as they can and pursue every intellectual curiosity they have. In that spirit, we have an array of academic programming that helps our students excel in their courses, on their standardized testing, in enrichment areas, and in preparing to succeed in a rigorous college environment. Some of our coursework includes US History enrichment, Calculus enrichment, SAT Prep, French class, and college-level research and writing. We offer ELL coursework for those of our students who require English support, and are continuing to build support for our IEP students.
Our students show impressive progress in our coursework. Our SAT Prep is often a central experience in our students’ high school careers; starting in 10th grade, our students have SAT prep class after school once per week and practice every weekend. Our average SAT Prep participant improves his/her score by 360 points per three months of participation, including those who already have substantial SAT experience. Our students have shown equally inspiring progress in their grades (an average 18% improvement in the first year of involvement with Project Rousseau), AP and SATII scores, ACT scores, and college readiness.
Every Saturday, we offer Testing Saturday, a drop-in program in which we accommodate students who need to work on any subject area, including college and scholarship applications.
3: Community Service
We aim to cultivate successful young people who are driven to use their ever-growing skillsets in the service of others. Community service is a habit and should become a weekly activity. Many of our students perform a community service project at a nursing home or homeless shelter every weekend. Students select their service site and serve consistently at that site every week throughout their high school career.
We are launching two new skills-added volunteer programs for our students. In our AMAF Club, students from all of our chapters team together to work on supporting the AMAF School, our long-time partners in Nairobi, Kenya. They are working on making arrangements to build a computer lab, improve teacher-training resources, and design a tutoring program. Our New York City-based students are starting the Project Rousseau-Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Consultancy Program, through which our students support the homeless shelter and drop-in center in improving their financial standing, their public relations practices, and their website design. These programs are vital to teaching our students that as their skillsets grow, so too can the ways in which they can make meaningful differences in the lives of others.
4: Broadening Horizons
We aim to constantly expose our students to new environments, experiences, and cultures. We bring our students to museums, symphony performances, concerts, movie screening, plays, and college campus visits, and lectures. During our summer programming, we ensure that every student has at least one new experience per week. During the academic year, we set the minimum at one new experience every other week. We cherish the opportunity to take our students to venues like the New York Philharmonic, Columbia University Astronomy Department’s biweekly Astronomy Night, and much more.
Another central component of our exposure programming are our two international exchanges with partners in Copenhagen, Denmark and London, England. Two small groups of our most deserving seniors and recent graduates visit our partners in each city once each year, and we host them each in the United States each year as well. Our exchange students in Copenhagen also engage in online exchanges with our students throughout the year. Each participating student has an online pen pal, and we engage both groups of students in joint discussions about daily life, education, culture, and politics in the United States and Denmark.