The names, photos, and details have been anonymized to protect the privacy of the student(s) involved, but the story is real.

The success of our work is best represented in the life of Jacob, a 7th-grade student at Pottstown Middle School. Jacob struggled to find his way for the first few months of the 2021 school year.

As a resident of Pottstown, our program coordinator Mr. Charles has acquaintances and relationships with many people in the area. Jacob’s grandmother Mrs. Brown happens to be one of those acquaintances. Concerned about her grandson, Mrs. Brown asked if Mr. Charles would have a conversation with Jacob about focusing on school and respecting authority figures.

Jacob was frequently sent to the school office for not following the rules, sleeping in class, or ignoring teacher requests. Jacob seemed to make friends easily at school. Jacob also wanted to belong which influenced his decisions to seek attention in the wrong places. When Jacob and Mr. Charles crossed paths in the hallways it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about his hobbies outside of school hours and to learn of challenges he faced daily. Mr. Charles was happy to learn they shared a common interest when Jacob mentioned that music was one of his hobbies and future goals.

Mr. Charles spoke to Jacob about these specific concerns and began building a relationship with him. Through a series of interactions and discussions, Mr. Charles listened, asked questions, and learned about Jacob’s friends. The more they talked, the more receptive Jacob seemed. Mr. Charles challenged Jacob to follow the rules in school, make better choices, choose a new direction, and proactively decide if his friends were positive influences in his life. Three days later Mr. Charles reconnected with Jacob and was pleased when he decided to accept the offer to work towards becoming a leader and removing himself from circles that were not positive. Since Jacob made this decision on his own Mr. Charles decided to invite a local music producer to the school to meet Jacob. This introduction was a huge success and incentive for Jacob to continue to thrive in school and at home. Jacob and the gentlemen hit it off well, and we are planning a few training sessions for him to develop his music production skills.

Mr. Charles meets with Jacob on a weekly basis, and they talk about goals, successes, and areas of improvement. Mr. Charles work closely with Jacob’s teacher, Ms. Sherman, his principal, Mr. Palladino and his grandmother. Jacob’s principal hasn’t had one issue since Mr. Charles and Jacob started connecting and setting goals for his success at home and in school. Ms. Sherman and Mr. Charles talk regularly about Jacob, and she is extremely grateful for the change in his behavior and improved focus. Ms. Sherman now uses positive reinforcement to help Jacob stay on track with his assignments and behavior by mentioning Mr. Charles’s name and the expectations that Jacob needs to stay committed to for success.