The Martha’s Vineyard Regional high school has launched a program to support at-risk students and those struggling academically.
The program, called Return to Learn, aims to re-engage students who are considered at-risk or in danger of failing by visiting them at home to discuss academic futures and the support they need to rejoin classes.
The program launched on March 2 and was discussed by principal Sara Dingledy and others at a meeting of the high school committee Monday.
“We were looking at new interventions to address some of the unique circumstances that we’re facing this year,” said student affairs administrator Dhakir Warren. “This is another example of our desire to really make sure we’re meeting students where they’re at, to take into account the individual circumstances that they may be facing, which might be preventing engagement.”
The home visits are the final stage of a larger three-stage strategy of intervention protocol that the school uses to support struggling students, Mr. Warren said. Students who are identified as needing support first receive feedback from educators and guidance counselors and have a conversation with the school’s student assistance team before a home visit.
Mr. Warren said students are flagged for intervention if they are failing three or more classes in primary academic content areas and if they have missed 10 or more class meetings for five weeks or more.
“This is really kind of that last touch point, that last opportunity for us to address whatever students may be struggling with that’s preventing them from showing up and performing consistently,” Mr. Warren said.
Assistant principal Jeremy Light said the visits are conducted by high school faculty members with support from Portuguese translators, who have helped the school reach the large population of ELL students who might be struggling academically.
The school has already conducted 14 visits with relative success, Mr. Light said, noting that five of the eight students visited last week have already returned to school for an in-depth conversation about how to re-engage in their academics.
“We are seeing some results — we’re not eight for eight, but I’ll take five for eight where we are right now,” said Mr. Light.
Ms. Dingledy agreed, stressing the importance of keeping students engaged and enrolled. “We are looking to unenroll no one, no matter what is going on, we want to retain our students who want to engage our students,” she said.
At the meeting Monday, the committee also voted to accept a Covid-19 relief grant from the state of $65,687.50 to cover cleaning expenses, PPE and other Covid-related expenses. The grant is split between the districts, with $11,200 for Edgartown, $10,175 for Oak Bluffs, $8,650 for the up-Island district, $18,225 for Tisbury and $17,437.50 for the high school, schol business administrator Mark Friedman said.