Freshman Success Team: what is it?

In these halls, there are 90 students that are part of a group called the Freshman Success Team. Now for the real question: what is it?

The Freshman Success Team is a group of 90 students, all taught by the same three teachers: Jenifer Howe, Conor Greaney, and Amanda Dowd. The general idea is to help, “increase graduation rates, and college career readiness,” Howe, biology and chemistry teacher, said. The teachers are drawn to freshman success, partly because it determines if they graduate on time. It is supposed to help the students become more successful and more set in the future. It targets freshmen because there is a big transition from eighth grade to ninth grade, and the teachers want to help set the freshmen up for success.

The kids are taught by the same three teachers. The teachers have similar strategies to help freshmen become more successful in their life. The students are picked randomly, the only factor that was balanced out was gender. 

Though the schedule is the same, the three same teachers only have a few students. One thing that is different from the standard freshmen is that the academy has a Freshman Focus Lab. That Lab is a class to help students with whatever they need. From time to time, the classes may have lessons on college tips or high school tips. The curriculum is slightly changed for the 90 students. 

Howe also mentioned that “the Freshman Success Team was started out of the district.” 

“Mayra Gomez, vice-chair of the Gresham-Barlow school district, was the main person in charge,” Howe said. “She kind of filtered that down through our admin, and then admin approached teachers.” 

Howe, Dowd and Greaney are all hoping to increase the attendance of students. “In terms of receiving state funding, it is based on data,” Howe said. “To show that it is working, they need to have real data.” 

The state received funding from a legislative session. Measure 98 was a big part of helping to fund the Freshman Success Team. Although it started this year, funding happened two years ago. For those who don’t know, Measure 98 is a ballot measure to raise money for schools. 

“If done well, it can be very successful. It gives teachers an opportunity to collaborate and kind of work together to help students.” Howe thinks that this is a great way to reach out to student’s other teachers if that student is struggling. 

A big part of the Freshman Success Team is having the teachers look at “instructional strategies that really work, and the ability to weave them through the different types of subjects,” as Howe said. 

Howe mentioned a couple of times that this year was the pilot year. There are no drastic changes that should be made, mostly because the teachers and admins want to see how this plays out. “I think the end goal would be to roll it out to all freshmen,” Howe said.

Kelsey Murphy