How well do you know the people you work with? The final day of post-planning our Head of Upper School, Blair Peterson had everyone participate in a “getting to know you” activity. Actually it was a what are you doing this summer activity. We lined up in a Soul Train Line and every three minutes you switched partners. The final pairing I was with Erin McCubbin. Erin serves Mount Vernon Presbyterian School as College Counselor.
Over the past few years I have witnessed Erin work her magic. Assisting students with getting into colleges that are an ideal fit and challenging students to stretch and reach colleges that may not be in their initial pool. Ms McCubbin has navigated the oceans of scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to help families tackle the cost of colleges. She has also served as a member of the school’s leadership team, mentored students, assisted with debate, expanded the name of the school and has always willingly pitched in throughout campus life. She is an all around wonderful person and yet I did know her as well as I thought. After our three-minute Soul Train dance, I was extremely excited about her summer plans.
Erin along with Sam Aleinikoff formed a non-profit and the goal is to empower students to take charge of the college admissions process. The third weekend in June MAP (Metro-Atlanta Access Program) would be hosting its inaugural Summer Intensive. Nearly 40 students would be brought to Oxford College at Emory University. These students would go through a crash course of the college admissions process.
The Summer IntensiveLiving and working with students for three days allows us the time, space, and opportunity to cultivate relationships that empower students to begin their college search. The Metro-Atlanta Access Program provides lessons, resources, and tools that enable each student to build the muscle needed to begin the application process their senior year. We promise that each student will:
- Engage meaningfully through sports, talent shows, down time, and meals to build relationships,
- Participate in a case study to help visualize the college admission reading process,
- Be empowered to brainstorm and develop a working draft of a personal narrative,
- Educate themselves on application and testing fee waivers, financial and merit aid processes and distinction, and scholarships available to high-need families,
- Work to build a robust resume highlighting his or her experiences and strengths,
- Develop a deep understanding of the high school transcript and its place in the application review process, including GPA calculation and HOPE GPA eligibility, and
- Have a customized list of schools to consider at the end of the summer intensive.
After hearing this and visiting the website, my next question was how can I help. She was generous enough to allow me to serve as an Ethnographer for the weekend. I captured stories, interviewed students and mentors, tweeted about the experiences and observed the workshops and shared through my blog. It was an amazing experience for the students and for me. It allowed me to get to know more about the college admissions process. My big takeaway was a greater understanding of one of my coworkers who I admired before and know have greater respect.
I mentioned this was the first year of the program. Sam and Erin started the conversation in January 2016 (this year) and six months later their vision is a reality. So while Erin was successful assisting students with applications, scholarships and organizing graduation. While being a member of the leadership team, mentoring students and successfully completing PhD coursework. She was able to pull off this program and give students a launchpad for a successful senior year.
I would encourage you to follow the works of Metro-Atlanta Access Program:
How well do you know the members of your team?