Program is a godsend for struggling students<BR>(continued from above story)

PRESCOTT – For students who are faltering in school, and for their parents who are groping for a solution, a pilot program at Prescott Unified School District appears to have touched a chord.

The Social Responsibility Training (SRT) program began this past school year at Prescott High School, and continued in the summer at the middle-school level.

The program aims to catch at-risk students at the end of their middle-school years and at the beginning of their high school years to set a different educational course.

And to hear parents and students tell it, the program has already had its share of success.

One parent, for instance, credits SRT with helping her son adjust to a cross-country move and a new school environment.

Although her son had always had academic success, the mother (who asked to remain anonymous) said the move attacked his confidence and caused him to sabotage his own success.

"My son is extremely smart, but he didn't do well in school this year," the mother explained. "As a new kid (in school), he was feeling alone, and he was retreating more and more."

Oftentimes, the boy didn't complete his schoolwork, or didn't even bother to turn it in. "He would have had to repeat some classes," his mother said. "It wasn't a knowledge problem, but he was having trouble adjusting."

When the boy's parents heard about the SRT program, they decided to try it instead of regular summer-school classes.

Through the program, she said, her son "really opened up. He just blossomed in this program."

And as a parent participant in the program, the mother said she also benefited. "I was able to pick up on what was going on with the kids," she said. "I got some really good parenting information."

Another parent expressed similar views in written comments. "After attending a few of the classes, my son came home and said that the 'teacher is winning over all of the students,'" the parent wrote of program leader Diane Bruck. "My son also stated to me that he thinks that this program will help all of the students that are in the class in high school and even beyond."

Written comments from students also attest to the program's effectiveness: "My feeling about the SRT class is that it is teaching me a lot of responsibility," wrote one. "After being in this class for four weeks, when I go to high school, I will do well."

Others described the program as fun and educational.

Even though the money for continuation of the program in the future is in question, students and parents are hopeful that it will continue.

"This is something that needs reinforcement," one mother said of the benefits of the program.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com.