By Maxwell Akuamoah-Boateng
December 2, 2016
Maxwell serves as Madison High School’s mathematics and science teacher. A OneGoal Program Director, his Year 1 cohort is beginning to make the connection on how investments in their education today can lead them to achieve their highest ambitions, including earning a college degree. Here he gives us a glimpse into his experience.
OG: Why did you choose to work with OneGoal?
MA: I became a OneGoal Program Director because of my students. They would often share with me their challenges with life and their future ambitions. I realized that throughout the school year, my students were missing out on opportunities, not for lack of interest, but because of a lack of understanding and exposure. Having been influenced by my mentors and their experiences, I was determined to find an avenue to help my students maximize their trajectory. Through OneGoal, I can now dedicate an entire class period, rather than a few minutes here and there, to helping my students reach one of the most crucial stepping stones for their success: a college degree.
OG: Describe your relationship with your cohort.
MA: Our relationship is simply tight! We have been able to successfully create an interdependent environment where everyone is comfortable enough to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. We’ve worked hard to create a transparent environment where we are honest and we engage in a lot of dialogue. We also have fun: we enjoy being creative, we even have sing-a-longs on bus trips!
OG: How has working with OneGoal impacted your students and yourself?
MA: Working with OneGoal has made my students feel like they matter and empowered them to seek out avenues to improve their performance, academically and socially. As a Program Director, I have the tools to help students connect how success of long-term goals, such as graduating from college, depends on the investment of short-term goals, like improving one’s GPA. The program has also helped me learn how to give students a platform for them to explore and express their voice/concerns in a world where they are misunderstood as well as uncertain.
OG: What have you found to be the most helpful for you in this Program Director role?
MA: My understanding of the college application and selection process is crucial for me to truly serve my students as a Program Director. Understanding how to use OneGoal’s college application tools has helped me guide my students in developing strong portfolios and gathering pertinent information to support their college decision making process.
OG: What have been the greatest and most challenging parts about OneGoal?
MA: It has been challenging for my Fellows to remain focused in order to meet the academic goals OneGoal helped them set. Issues arise that challenge my students often, whether that be a quarrel with another student, a confrontation with a teacher, or domestic challenges. These obstacles have been a distraction for some of my students. However, being a part of the OneGoal cohort has helped them find the grit to overcome these obstacles.
OneGoal has called Chicago home since its founding in 2007 and has seen it's impact on the city increase throughout the years to now serving 5,300 Fellows across 84 schools. This type of reach could not be possible without the trust and support from Chicago's high school principals, who deeply care about seeing their students not only graduate from their schools, but to go on and earn college degrees. OneGoal honored these principals at OneGoal-Chicago's annual School Leaders Appreciation Breakfast. Here is what they had to say.( )
John Dewey High School Assistant Principal Jeff Simon reflects on the value of a college education & the role teachers play in inspiring students to see college in their futures.( )
Isabel Garcia succeeded in getting accepted into college and then failed her first semester classes. Learn how she bounced back to now be a straight-A student.( )
Black History Month is more than 28 days of reflection and remembrance of the struggles, the triumphs and the work that remains in the path toward becoming an equitable nation. For OneGoal, this is a time to take stock of the past to re-imagine what the future could hold for communities of color should our collective work towards justice succeed. Here OneGoal staff share their thoughts.( )