Overcoming Freshman Year Challenges

Brimming with possibilities, freshman year introduces students to new friendships and exposes them to diverging thoughts and ideas. It is a year when educational habits form and take shape.

A season when they begin to understand how much time is required to study, and when to recognize when they need help. Sadly, for some, it can be a tough year. Unable to gauge their needs, they begin to lag behind and freshman year takes on a pattern of chaos, frustration and playing constant catch-up.

Dedicated to sidestepping some of these common freshman-year challenges, Innovation Central High School offers a Freshman Focus Academic Interventions initiative. Held after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Freshman Focus offers tutoring, career preparation and exploration as well as skill-set building such as time management, agenda making, and the power of good choices. Teacher Nataša Karić describes the program as “providing a pathway of opportunity for freshman to succeed.” While teachers identify students who are academically vulnerable, this voluntary program is also made available to any interested freshman.

“I struggled during the 1st and 2nd semesters, but since I started coming after school, I’m doing better this semester,” said ninth grade student, Chris Bourassa. “My grades are the highest they’ve been all year!”

For the second year, the Student Advancement Foundation -thanks to the generosity of donors-awarded Innovation Central a principal support fund mini-grant. Grant funds support this valuable program and are used for incentives, like snacks, reusable water bottles and even an end-of-year pizza party to recognize those students who attend a total of 20 Freshman Focus interventions over the 15-week period.

Illustrating the real value of the program, Ms. Karić concluded: “I can see a difference in the students who use Freshman Focus. It helps them develop good study habits and to know when to get help. These skills follow them throughout high school. ”

Located in the Heritage Hill District, Innovation Central is home to four unique Centers of Innovation: Academy of Business, Leadership & Entrepreneurship, Academy of Design & Construction, Academy of Modern Engineering and the Academy of Health Science & Technology.

Since the inception of the Freshman Focus initiative three years ago, Innovation Central has seen both a steady increase in freshman participation and grades – ultimately helping students close out this critical school year on an academically positive note.

When asked what Chris would tell the incoming freshman class about the Freshman Focus program, his response: “Most definitely come!”

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