Transition from a troubled adolescent to star student

“I was scared of hiking and water rafting. I was so scared I was screaming ‘I want my mom!’ But it showed me how to be a leader. If you are not uncomfortable, you are not doing anything. This whole year I was uncomfortable, but if you are too comfortable it means you are only doing the same things over and over again.

Chris White calls Jessica, who was the highest performing girl in his class last year, “the best role model we have. She’s very conscientious and helps the other kids; you can see that the other girls look up to her.” Continue Reading

Why changing large urban high schools into smaller communities works

Martin, a burly, 61-year-old, Long Island native, was taught soccer by a Brazilian Holocaust survivor. He is particularly well positioned to help needy youngsters attain their goals, as his own life once looked despairingly bleak. Twenty years ago, while living in New Mexico, Martin faced significant personal trials and setbacks. He describes his life as “chaotic and unmanageable,” but after returning to New York he worked as a cab driver and got his life on track.

He got a job teaching emotionally disturbed adolescents in East Harlem and became completely focused on making a positive impact. “Knowing you have a path and a direction and a goal makes you succeed. If we can instill that into children we can go somewhere. I put my energies into making their lives better.” Continue Reading