Kanke | NAZ Academic Specialist located at PCYC

"At first, all of the scholars were trying to see who I was ...

One scholar was very resistant toward me, and toward a lot of things. Challenging behavior often shows up because the coursework is too difficult and the child tends to act out. It's not that they're a bad kid, but no one has had the time to stop and see what a kid needs.

One day, he brought his football, and I said: 'let's go to the gym' — knowing he was struggling with sight words. So we threw the ball back and for and spelled 'all' — A-L-L. That became our rhythm.

Now, he has a new way to learn. The classroom doesn't always work for everybody; sometimes we have to switch it up. And I really appreciate the opportunity to bring my creativity.

He's able to do both now — work in the gym and in the classroom space. What I'm able to do is build up his confidence in himself and in his reading. And he's doing it!

A lot of the staff a PCYC work in the field of social work, and they use the term 'hire.' And this scholar we're talking about hired me. It's a trust, someone he can trust and go to.

What I walk forward with is that connection with him. He knows we're on it — both of us. It's like 'Hey Ms. Kanke, we haven't met this week' and I'm like 'I'm coming for you; I got you.'

That's my guy. There was a lot of kicking and screaming at the beginning ... but he's the funniest and he's so loving and I wish everyone could see that."

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3 days ago  ·  


The Odds Are Stacked Against Jaquan

Eight-year-old Jaquan is a typical NAZ scholar. His mom struggled to pay rent on an income below the poverty line. He was placed in Level 4 special education and suspended from his after school program due to behavior. Sadly, like many low-income children who fall into the achievement gap, Jaquan was on a track to join the “cradle to prison” pipeline.

Meet “Team Jaquan”

When Jaquan’s family enrolled in NAZ, his mother immediately began to work toward a series of goals that support college readiness.

“Team Jaquan” was formed to help him succeed in school. This team includes his mother, teacher, NAZ Family Achievement Coach, NAZ Academic Specialist, a NAZ Behavioral Health Access Specialist and more. Their work quickly identified anxiety as the cause of his problems at school.

He is now working one on one with his Academic Specialist to set and reach his own goals in school. Jaquan attends a NAZ Anchor School and his Specialist is located on site. As barriers arise, they work together to find solutions.

Because NAZ carefully tracks the progress of every scholar through NAZ Connect, we know that his after-school and summer programs have helped him to jump ahead in reading and math. He is now in Level 1 special education. Every week he hangs out with his mentor and visits his behavioral health counselor.

Support From the Cradle to College

NAZ supports scholars from pre-birth through college. Jaquan’s younger sister used to be babysat by a family friend. Through NAZ she received a scholarship to attend a high-quality early childhood education center that is helping her to prepare for kindergarten. This provided the added benefit of stable childcare for her mother, enabling her to go to work full time.

When Jaquan reaches middle school and high school, he will attend age-appropriate after school and summer Out-of-School Time (OST) programs that focus on academics, college readiness, and job training. His mentor will work with him well into high school. If he needs additional academic support, he will continue to work with an Academic Specialist through graduation. His behavioral health supports will also remain in place as long as they are needed.

He will be supported through the college admissions process and to attain a four year degree.

Reaching a Tipping Point

At full scale, 1,000 households with 2,500 scholars will be enrolled in the NAZ pipeline to college. Our high-touch team approach will support the scholars most at risk of being left behind. 

Our vision is that many of these scholars will return to the community after college and support the community to thrive.