College is for Everyone
By Meital Caplan
July 25, 2018
In celebration of OneGoal’s 10-year anniversary, we sought to collect reflections from some of the numerous individuals who have helped build the organization. Drew Woodward, Director of Guidance at BMC Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, was instrumental in bringing OneGoal to his school two years ago. Here he reflects on why he took a chance on a new college access-and-success program.
After first learning about OneGoal, we knew we had to get involved. At the time, OneGoal was looking to expand outside of Boston and I believed Durfee would be a great fit. We were initially attracted to the support offered to both teachers and students, as well as the data showcasing the success of the program.
Our school at large does a great job of working with the most academically-motivated students, but there is a growing population of first-generation students at Durfee who could be very successful in college — they just need extra support. OneGoal gives us another opportunity to support those students who aren’t necessarily the highest-achieving, or the ones who know they want to go to college.
Part of our mission is to help students recognize their potential and work toward it – to help them build their confidence that college is attainable and realistic for their futures. Our partnership with OneGoal is a great resource toward this end.
And the support doesn’t end when they graduate high school. OneGoal has partnered with area colleges, such as Bridgewater State and a few others so that Fellows can form a crew with other OneGoal students from Fall River and New Bedford. We know that when students are able to build a support network with other students who can relate to them, they’re more likely to succeed, which is an awesome benefit.
What I love most about OneGoal is that it’s not a workshop that students attend once, but rather it’s a college success program that’s built into the classroom. In addition, it’s a homegrown model that delivers content by Durfee teachers, so it’s not strangers from outside the Fall River community coming in and changing everything.
By working with teachers who are already involved in the school, you create a sense of trust and confidence within students, which has already improved the school culture. Most of the students are really bought in and they’re really enthusiastic about the support they’re getting. They’ve bonded with each other and formed a community among their class, as well as the other cohorts.
We have older students who are telling the younger ones, “Trust me, it’s worth it.”
I witnessed one awesome example of how powerful the program is at the induction ceremony for our new Fellows earlier this year. It was a challenge at first to get the kids to commit to getting on a bus early Saturday morning to attend the celebration. However, when they arrived, they were so excited to meet the other students and teachers through the state. It was a really cool moment to see the teachers who’d given up their Saturday as well to celebrate the students. We even had a teacher on maternity leave come to the ceremony to celebrate and bond with the students. It was a changing point for our students and for our OneGoal program.
I’m looking forward to watching our first OneGoal class graduate from high school and matriculate on to college next year. And I’m excited about increasing our cohorts and serving more students. I also want to include our English Language Learner, or ELL, students in the program as well to help them get the support they need.
In the future, it would be great to have students who have been through the OneGoal program graduate from college, become teachers, return to Durfee and become OneGoal Program Directors.
It’s about paying it forward and building a sense of community.
We’re part of a largely low-income school district, but we want to build a culture where college is for everyone and OneGoal is a huge piece of that. This partnership is some of the work I’m most proud of in my three years at Durfee. It is a program that’s going to thrive because of the work and collaboration of the enthusiastic teachers, counselors, administration and OneGoal support team.