A unique strategy to turn around the performance of middle school students has boys learning about life through chess clubs.
Sixth graders are learning about leadership and character through a collaboration of several groups active in Roosevelt and Wilson middle schools in Cedar Rapids.
“There was definitely a group of boys who we felt were facing some challenges that we weren’t quite sure how to address,” said Hannah White, site manager for Kids on Course at Roosevelt Middle School. “Pretty high tardies, some office referrals, some fighting, just not where we wanted them to be, or anybody would want their middle schooler.
“The thread that pulled them all together were they were kids of color and boys in particular,” White added. “While we celebrate diversity on our staff on Kids on Course, we don’t have any African-American men, and we just really thought that that was important, if we were going to bring mentors in, they would be a reflection of who these kids are,” White said.
A collaboration between Kids on Course and Horizons evolved into lunches with students, which then became chess clubs. Lessons focused on learning the challenging game, and also on social issues. One lesson covered the art of losing well.