The annual Middle School Connection at Jefferson County Public Schools begins in two weeks. School officials say after more than a decade, the program continues to inspire students.
Middle School Connection pairs volunteer adults with seventh graders for brief one-on-one discussions about education and related topics. Coordinator Susan Shortt says it’s a more personal way to inspire students than assemblies or visits from motivational speakers.
“They’re used to seeing one person speaking but to see all those people doing it, hour after hour in the school, it really makes an impression on the kids,” she says.
Shortt says the district gives the students surveys before and after the meetings. They show that many students enter the seventh grade thinking the community does not care about them.
“You see these kids at the mall or something, you know, and they’re running around yelling and carrying on and everybody looks at them life they’ve got horns or something,” she says. “So they really did think that. But right after, we did a post test and the switch completely flips.”
JCPS is seeking up to 17 hundred volunteers for this year’s program, and Shortt says more than one thousand people have already signed up. The meetings begin on October 5th and will be held regularly in middle schools until the 29th.