Calling the organization a “valuable partner” in helping to support district students, Superintendent Pamela Swanson delivered the keynote address at the YESS Institutes 10th annual breakfast on Thursday, April 20.
The YESS Institute is an elective class for middle school students that provides peer-to-peer mentoring and support. Over the past ten years, the YESS Institute has assisted approximately 3200 students in Westminster Public Schools.
Swanson told the group that visiting a YESS Institute classroom is inspiring:
“You see children, many of whom come from complicated home lives, learn to trust their fellow students because many of them have experienced similar life situations.
You see students who do not normally participate in classroom discussions and activities reengage and look forward to a collaborative classroom experience and understand the value of education.
And what may be most heartwarming of all ….
You see students who entered the YESS program because they were struggling, become mentors to other kids. There is nothing more beneficial to a student than to have a classmate say:
“Yeah, that happened to me too…but I got through it and so can you.”
Swanson told attendees that the benefits of the YESS Institute are measurable.
- From 2017-2020, YESS mentees showed between 10-15% greater improvement in attendance compared to non-YESS students.
- Compared to non-YESS students in the program, YESS mentees doubled their improvement in English Language Arts scores as well as showing dramatic improvements in math.
- Research also shows that students who have enrolled in the YESS experience have a much greater understanding of the importance of graduating from high school.
As part of the program, organizers shared student artwork reflecting the values the YESS Institute represents.