More than a statistic
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced in-person ministry to come to a halt, our City Life 46806 team was having difficulty reaching a young man named Eli.
When 95% of our students were doing the right thing, Eli was usually in the 5% not following directions. When 99% of our students were obeying rules, Eli was typically the 1% choosing to do his own thing.
One day at City Life, Eli was given an assignment during educational success time; he was asked to write a paragraph about his day. He made excuse after excuse to not write it, so our City Life Director told him to write just one sentence. Even with reducing the assignment to a simple sentence, Eli still tried to find ways to get out of it. Eventually, he finished the sentence, and our director asked him what he had written.
Eli read aloud, “I had a good day.”
To our director’s surprise, what was actually written on Eli’s paper was, “I me day Yt god.”
Our staff had suspected this student had issues with literacy; seeing his paper was confirmation.
During the current quarantine we are under, our team is finding resources to help Eli build literacy skills. Helping this young man will provide a template we can use to help other students, either current or future, who need additional support.
Students who do not read at their appropriate grade level by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time. If they come from a low-income family, they are six times less likely. We also know high school dropouts are 63 times more likely to be incarcerated than college students. The problem is heartbreakingly significant.
Helping a teen learn how to read and write will build self-esteem. Self-esteem will eventually lead to improved behavior. Improved behavior will lead to more opportunities. More opportunities will lead to students creating a better future for themselves.
If left to his own devices with no intervention, Eli could be part of a count used to determine how many prisons need to be built. We have been blessed with the opportunity to help Eli, and other young people, build a better present and a better future.
Source: Reading Partners (2013)