A.I.M INITIATIVE

ABOUT A.I.M INITIATIVE

AIM is an Initiative of Shadow Student Athlete Development Services, Inc (SSADS). AIM implements culturally responsive mentoring practices to impact the “new education crisis” in Pennsylvania, racially inequitable discipline practices pushing African American students specifically male youth out of public school. The ways in which AIM implements mentoring as a coaching and modeling method is an effort to bridge the greater crisis, the achievement or educational/information opportunity gap.

AIM places Character Coaches who are community-centric in high needs Pittsburgh Public Schools as conflict specialists to support students, families and school staff by modeling culturally specific mentoring practices, managing class transition periods and providing intensive support through individual or group sessions and assessing the cultural health of the community. These services are designed to build and develop the spectrum of social emotional skills for students, and to activate the empowerment of parents to be equitable partners with school staff in responding to the needs of their students and the needs of the school.

WHO WE ARE?

AIM is a mentoring movement that provides mentors who fortify students with social skills development in order to navigate spaces and who model community-centric leadership to teachers and administrators in urban schools. In addition to providing students with problem solving, critical thinking, and listening skills: peer mediation prepares students to be globally competitive citizens in a complex and conflict-ridden world. School based mediation programs provide a number of proven benefits to schools including but not limited to: reduced suspension, detentions, and expulsions rates.

WHAT WE DO

AIM assess the barriers and resources of the community (cultural wealth and health) through experiential knowledge, observation, dialogue and a social/cultural capital tool to discover how best to mobilize what resources are needed and which resources are available in the community that can be activated. This component of AIM enhances the cultural specificity of the initiative and creates a wholistic balanced approach to the work..

AIM strives to improve communication between and among students, teachers, administrators, and parents. With that effort, a reduction of violence has taken place at the schools where AIM is implemented. The mediation process will provide students with a direct forum for resolving conflict that does not require the direct attention of administrators.The process helps resolve conflicts permanently by addressing their underlying causes, and serves as an alternative to traditional disciplinary actions.

We utilized Character Coaches, which have a pulse on the culture in the community and that enables them to be highly successful. Character Coaches serving as conflict specialists in schools to support school staff by modeling culturally specific mentoring practices, managing class transition periods and providing intensive support through individual or group sessions to students that build and develop social emotional skills, and to activate the empowerment of parents to be equitable partners with school staff. The AIM initiative is in operation as a supportive response to discipline practices in urban school settings.

Character Coaches take on many roles, but all roles stem from a position of servant-leader. As servant leaders through the AIM initiative, Character Coaches lead by serving students, in schools and in their community. AIM assess the barriers and resources of the community in which the student is in school and lives through observation, dialogue and a social capital tool to discover how best to mobilize what resources are needed and which resources are available in the community that can be activated. The Character Coaches are seen, known, and available in the community of the students a process of relationship building that is significant and sustainable.

Through the AIM Initiative, we are making significant discoveries operating in PreK-8 schools with grades 5th – 8th and work in 9th-12th. One major discovery is a need for Character Coaches to extend their support for students engaged or interested in after school athletics. Here’s what we know about the impact of racial inequity of discipline practices and athletics on African American males and what we, through data driven design, seek to disrupt:

-During the 2009-2010 school year, African American students represented 17% of National discipline data (Losen & Gillespie, 2012)

-During the 2011-2012 school year in the State of Pennsylvania, African American students represented 13.6% of the school population, but 48.25% African of the out-of-school discipline data.

In that school year, 166,000 African American students were “pushed out” of school. Pittsburgh Public Schools is the 2nd largest school district in the state and ranks 5th in the states discipline data (American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, 2013)

Through these experiences, we have discovered a high need for the AIM initiative to expand into systemic supports in addition to the student, family, school and community support. It is our claim that teachers and administrators are not always reflective of the various cultural and social spaces navigated by students and their families. This lived reality of navigating often challenging spaces impacts how students are in relationship with the process of education.

Culturally responsive engagement processes supports the authentic connection of teachers, families, students, and curriculum, especially in the current culture of standardized educational practices. However, this type of engagement requires many levels of reflection on the part of teachers, administrators, and community-centric leaders. In addition, it requires the recognition of the realities that accompany the facts and issues that come with serving in marginalized urban communities.

Strong Ambitious Woman is a movement of young ladies who are striving for success. Empowerment is what we AIM for and a higher consciousness of self is key to our growth. The program is a key element to support the journey that girls seeks to embark on in their new journey in order to truly insure that they are receiving a quality, equal, appropriate, empowering, and critical education.

The group meets daily for session. Some of the groups and activities consist of

  • Self-esteem discussion and workshops
  • Character Development
  • Conversation around Identity
  • African Culture
  • Dance/Drill team
  • Current Events

S.A.W. will be joining STEM Stars which is and after school program for 6-8 girls. They will learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

GALLERY

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE

The following is a mixed-methods evaluation of the A.I.M. initiative (A.I.M.) by Shadow Student Athlete Development Services, Inc. (S.S.A.D.S.), a character coaching program active in six K-8 or 6-8 Pittsburgh Public Schools. The evaluation is focused on the three schools, Langley, King, and South Hills, where A.I.M. is most firmly established.