Tee of For Teens Success Story
“Tina,” an African-American student, was brought before the Truancy Board because of her unexcused absences. Her attendance was complicated with personal obstacles that are by-products of poverty. Home life offered little support; her father is incarcerated and mother is frequently bed-ridden. Before coming to Outside the Box, she had many unexcused absences. Justin, the program’s site director, met Tina outside the Student Office at the beginning of spring quarter. He told her about Outside the Box and she began showing up. She responded to the personal attention, group processing and individual homework help. Most importantly, she learned that she was safe to be herself with the group. Before long, she became a regular attendee and even brought friends. During the remainder of the school year, Tina was engaged. By the time the end of the school year arrived, her grades had significantly improved. She came to the program with 5 Ds and 1 F on her report card. In June, her grades were 5 Cs and 1 D (in a non-academic course). Not only did her academic achievement increase, but her self-advocacy dramatically developed. Her final visit to Truancy Board to report on her progress impressed the adult panel, comprising the Dean of Students, officials from Juvenile Court and other representatives from youth-supporting organizations. Members of the Truancy Board described her progress as “remarkable.” This result is partly due to the improvement in her behavior and self-efficacy. She previously would not look adults in the eye and put little effort in communicating. Eye-rolling and single word responses were her common affect. Within three months, Tina was able to speak to adults more confidently and directly. Despite the many obstacles to her academic achievement, she doubled her GPA in one semester! Her confidence and character development are significant, evidenced by her verbal communication and positive social interaction within the group.