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Laird Receives Berkeley Citation

An Interview With Bob Laird

Program to Track Global Traffic in Organs

Original Oski Recalls Mascot’s Glory Days

Helping Berkeley High Freshmen to Succeed

Will There Be Money Left in Social Security’s Stash When You Retire?

Photo IDs Are on Their Way

Campus Researchers Eagerly Visit Iran

Considerable Land Remains for Sonoma Vineyards to Expand, Computer Model Shows

Former Congressman Dellums Inaugurates Endowed Chair With Lecture

State’s Three Strikes Law Strikes Out

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Helping Berkeley High Freshmen to Succeed

Mentoring Program Matches Campus Students With Local Teenagers and Their Parents in Preparation for College

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted November 10, 1999

As college admissions and career opportunities become increasingly competitive, a successful high school experience becomes even more important. Yet many public schools in the Bay Area lack the staff or resources to guide young students through.

"Berkeley High has only one counselor for 832 freshman," said Caleb Dardick, interim director of the Berkeley Alliance, a collaboration between UC Berkeley, the city of Berkeley, Berkeley Unified School District and the community. "We'd like to help prevent these students from falling through the cracks."

The Freshman Project is a mentoring program that matches Cal students and other community volunteers with freshmen and their parents for one-on-one conversations about what it takes to succeed in high school and beyond.

Most high school counseling programs begin in sophomore or junior years, said Dardick, but reaching kids earlier in high school increases their chances for success.

To help students at Berkeley High, the alliance initiated the Freshman Project, a mentoring program that matched UC Berkeley students and other community volunteers with freshmen and their parents for one-on-one conversations about what it takes to succeed in high school and beyond. The sessions took place during a three-week period in late October to early November.

"The choices you make in high school can affect your whole life," said Matt Brehm, an alliance student intern and coordinator of the project. "We gave students suggestions on how to make the most of their time in high school and options for life after graduation."

The idea to counsel freshmen and their families was brought to the alliance's attention by education Professor Pedro Noguera and Berkeley Pledge coordinator Anita Madrid.

"Fifty percent of the African American and Latino students who start ninth grade at Berkeley High don't graduate," said Noguera. "Not only does the Freshman Project help freshmen get a head start, but it also informs parents so they can be better advocates for their children's success."

To put the project into motion, the alliance turned to Brehm, an energetic senior majoring in economics and public policy.

Brehm started by creating a class, EDU 97-197, offered through the Graduate School of Education, to train student volunteers on advising freshman. He recruited volunteers through Cal Students for Educational Outreach, a campus organization he helped found. Brehm also wrote a lively and straightforward booklet, "A Guide to Student Life and Beyond," that volunteers used during their mentoring sessions with freshman.

The Freshman Project is one of several efforts by the alliance to close the achievement gap in K-12 education, particularly among minority students. Future programs include a "shadowing" day in February, where Berkeley High students follow professionals in the community to better understand the skills and abilities needed in the workforce.

"We would love for departments at Cal to participate in this project," said Dardick, who also works for Berkeley's Office of Community Relations. "Shadowing helps students understand what's expected of them and make the connection to why they're in school."



November 10 - 16, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 14)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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