September 17, 2013

Coaching to Learn


Maggie: In school, you are used to seeing your classmates and a teacher. But what if you saw your teammates and a coach? Well, Demetrius Pipkin checks out one school that is taking the lessons you learn on the field and putting them to work in the classroom.

Demetrius: Fifteen-year-old Gillet Hood has trouble dealing with anger. And it has often caused problems for him in school.

Gillet’s grandma: If you had been in another school, police would have been involved.

Gillet Hood: I promise to do better, I guess. I mean, I know.

Demetrius: But luckily for Gillet, the school he does attend is no stranger to giving second chances.

Nested in this church, in one of the neediest communities of Brooklyn, New York, lies Urban Dove Team Charter School. They recruit students that other schools have given up on. And Jai Nanda, the schools founder, says the reactions from those schools are always the same.

Jai Nanda: Woo! Awesome! Great! And not from a ‘We don’t like them,’ but ‘Someone else can educate them and get them to be successful? Great! We can’t do it.’

Demetrius: And they are the only school in New York City specifically designed to serve this population of high-risk student.

Across the country, students that come from low-income families are seven times more likely to drop out of school than those that come from high income families. And at Urban Dove, 93% of the students there live below the poverty line.

So, to keep students at Urban Dove in school, they start every day off by getting them in the gym. They play basketball, lift weights, jump rope, use punching bags, ride bikes, and do yoga.

Nanda: We need to recognize that a full education requires that kids are active.

Demetrius: At a time when only six states require PE in every grade, and only nine states require recess, Urban Dove has done the opposite and made sports the basis of their curriculum. The first three hours of the day are dedicated to team sports. It is there that unity is built between the players and the coaches.

Nanda: Kids look at a coach differently. They’re willing to share. They’re willing to listen. You know, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ ‘What’s the problem?’ ‘Why are you angry?’ ‘Why are you upset?’ That’s a unique conversation.

Demetrius: And those coaches then follow their team of students and sit with them in the classroom, helping with homework and sorting out problems.

Head coach: Keep it moving!

Demetrius: With just over 100 students enrolled this year, the coaches have personal relationships with the student’s families and keep many of them on speed dial to help deal with discipline.

Head Coach: I’m going to contact your mother.

Gillet’s grandma: So, when you get ready to get angry and stuff like that, I want you to picture me in your face. Okay? Picture grandma. What I’m going to give you when you get back home.

Demetrius: And even though some of the students at Urban Dove are still struggling, Gillet, who has lost 65 pounds since starting there, is enjoying the benefits of going to school every day.

Gillet: Of course, I do. I feel perfect about myself.

Demetrius: Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.

Maggie: Urban Dove is a charter school, meaning it receives public funding, but operates privately. So, it can do things that a traditional public school can’t do, like having a three-hour block for sports every day, just as long as the school remains accountable for things like a student’s test scores.


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