Friday, September 14, 2007
Introducing CCHS interim METCO Coordinator Kim Bovell
A METCO veteran
Bovell graduated from Needham High School in 1999, after 13 years in the METCO program, commuting daily from Boston to Needham during grades K-12. She says, "I love Needham!" but adds it was not always a good experience. "Once in a while there was racial tensionNeedham is not a diverse town." Her overall view of the METCO experience was positive. She went on to graduate cum laude from Clark Atlanta University in 2003.
Bovell says of her experiences, "I knew the program as a student. I also know what my parents went through." She said it was harder for METCO students because they did not know about all the resources that were available to students. For instance, she was unaware of scholarships offered to Needham graduates from local organizations. "I want to give these METCO students all the resources we didn't have."
While riding the bus to CCHS every morning as a bus monitor, Bovell has gotten to know the METCO students and some of their parents. She tutors students in English, mathematics, social studies and Spanish, getting to know them better. Her primary concerns have been that some METCO students were not doing well and some were not working to their potential. She says, "It is that personal touch that is most important."
METCO GPAs have risen since she started at CCHS. She says of the students she works with, "They have the skills, they have the knowledge. I just pull it out of them."
Last year, Bovell started the Step Club after school. Thirty-five girls from METCO, Concord and Carlisle participated in the dance club. Girls had to keep a "C" average or above to be in the club. Bovell said, "It gives girls something to work for." The seniors generally run the club, and she oversees it. Bovell asked the girls what they wanted to do. They are considering a trip to New Orleans to build homes through "Habitat for Humanity," and needed a fund-raiser. Last March, the girls put on a fashion show, "The Spring Bling," which Bovell plans to repeat.
This summer, Bovell organized a two-day orientation for METCO students to meet the staff, get a tour of the building and attend a mock class and panel discussion with upperclassmen. The discussion introduced students to a number of facets of the program and what was in store for them. The group also went on a tour of downtown Concord and was shown how to get the train.
Bovell, full of energy, is ready to improve the METCO experience. She is planning a "Scholars Program" to boost GPAs further. Besides tutoring, the program will offer more mentoring. including workshops on team building and self-esteem. "I hope to reach all the METCO students." She wants to look at the student as a whole, not just academically. First, she will help them build relationships and then work to build their confidence.
Another goal is for METCO students to have more interaction between grades. For example, she would like to see METCO middle school students ride on the same bus as the METCO elementary school students. She also plans to promote reading buddies between grades, spanning ages K-12.
Bovell will try to improve communication between CCHS and METCO parents as well as com-munication among METCO parents. She noted that not all of them have ready access to the Internet. METCO parents have meetings every other month in Roxbury and are encouraged to come to meetings at CCHS also.
Raising METCO enrollment
Over the last several years, the number of METCO students at the high school has decreased. In the 2002-2003 school year, there were 90 METCO students, today there are only 74. Bovell is working to increase that number. With only 14 METCO students coming in from Concord Middle Schools, she (with the help of Dinnall before her retirement) recruited 11 new METCO students to join the freshmen CCHS class. Although many students are on waiting lists to get into the METCO program, Bovell said it was not always easy to find candidates for CCHS. "I have to make sure they are ready for the curriculum hereThey have to be on track for what CCHS is offering." She also asks candidates two questions: "Do you want to be here?" and "Will you take advantage of what is offered here?" She wants the METCO recruits to find success.
Each METCO student is paired with a host family in Concord. Host families provide a sort of "home away from home" where METCO kids can hang out. In the fall there is a "Welcome Back" Picnic for the K-12 METCO students and their families. This year, host families will be invited to the picnic as well.
Bovell has a motto, "Be better today than you were yesterday." These words hang in her office. As she goes off to tackle the challenges of her new position she says, "I can't lose touch with the students. I love being in contact with them." Bovell is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of METCO students at the high school.
© 2007 The