By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD — A retired principal has received a $149,000 grant to help low-income middle school students from Lynnwood develop good homework habits and plan for college.
The three-year program includes monthly dinner meetings with parents and after-school tutoring.
“Waiting until high school is too late,” said Jan Link, who submitted the grant application along with the Edmonds School District. She also oversees a separate grant- supported program that provides free tutoring at an apartment complex for district students.
Link is working with four elementary schools that will send students to Alderwood Middle School as seventh-graders next fall. About half the students at those schools qualify for a free or government-subsidized lunch based on family income. Each school will recommend 15 students by the end of the school year.
“We are definitely excited about the opportunity,” said Brian Stewart, Alderwood’s assistant principal. “I think it could be a move in the right direction getting kids ready for college.”
The goal is to build an academic culture for students at school and at home, Link said.
That will include helping parents set up an effective system to study at home. A week of activities in August aims to ready the students for middle school.
The program aims to help students through two key transitions — from elementary school into middle school and from middle school into high school, Link said.
The grant was awarded by College Spark Washington, whose mission is to help low-income students be ready for college and complete undergraduate degrees. The organization makes annual grant awards and has a $130 million endowment.
Link had been an elementary and high school principal before she retired. Since then, she has become increasingly convinced that middle school is a critical time for students. She wants to build a program that can be replicated at other schools, first within Snohomish County and then throughout the state.
To participate, students and parents must sign contracts committing their support, Link said. Grades will be monitored closely throughout each term and she envisions mandatory make up of missing assignments and retaking of tests.
Volunteers, including high school students, also will play an important role in giving middle school students one-on-one help in after-school study halls, she said.
“We are looking at every angle we can to give more support as the students are going through, not just to survive but to excel,” she said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer or learn more about a program that will help students from Alderwood Middle School prepare for college, go to www.academiclinkoutreach.org or call Jan Link at 425-314-6500.