- Faith & Family
Middle school can be a tough time for many students, as they make that transition from being little children to their teenage years. Classes become more demanding, peer pressure begins to mount and their interest in the opposite sex grows with each passing day. They are also required to become more self-reliant and more focused. But they need to acquire the proper skills.
That’s why Miami Edison Middle School, in partnership with Project Pass, the Junior Leadership Corps and the U.S. Army JROTC, combined their efforts this year to establish a junior cadet program for students. The results, according to Dr. Isolyn Hillhouse, principal, were nothing short of amazing.
“I have seen their self-esteem, confidence, pride and grades all increase quite significantly,” she said. “At the core we see how our kids respond to the JROTC’s requirement that all participants live according to the Cadet Creed. Our students have flourished and we already have a very long waiting list for next year.”
According to Dr. T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami, Project Pass was successful because of different community and public school leaders worked together for a common cause — improving the education for all students.
“Children want discipline and they want to become leaders — we have to show them the way,” Fair said.
Marlyn Paris Lawson, Advisory Council Chair, emphasized the importance of providing young children with mentors.
“When you speak to anyone who become successful, in almost every aspect of their lives they talk about the mentor or mentors who have guided them,” she said. “It’s not just about improving test scores for Dr. Hillhouse or Dr. [Pablo] Ortiz [Miami Edison Senior High School principal — it’s about finding people who are willing to work with our children that are positive examples. It’s about the many people in our community who do more than just talk the talk — they walk the walk.”
Hillhouse says that she has noticed an added “pep in the step” of her students when they don their uniforms on specially-designated days. Each cadet was honored with a medallion for service. In addition, special awards were presented to two cadets for outstanding achievement in physical fitness and drill ceremony: Cadet Dwayne Mannings, 16 (8th grade) and Cadet Tatiana Hutchinson, 14 (7th grade).
“As I watched the Edison students demonstrate their newly-acquired leadership skills, I could not help but think how important it is to validate our students, their lives, their cultures and futures,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, vice chair, M-D County School Board. “The PASS Program has proven to be the type of experience that links education, passion and determination to the acquisition of skills taught in the classroom. I am proud of what this value-added program and the young people participating in it.”
By D. Kevin McNeir