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Not for Profit: St. Croix Foundation

Oct. 28, 2007 — The St. Croix Foundation is known for its focus on the community, with its efforts toward town revitalization, public safety, fiduciary management and strengthening nonprofit groups.
"Another major focus of the foundation is to help prepare students to compete in the global 21st century through educational curriculums, resources and community support," says Roger Dewey, executive director of the foundation.
In recent years, the foundation has realized that the social and economic welfare of the entire community benefits from the academic success of the young people of St. Croix. The foundation has provided scholarships, but the goal is to reach more students by improving public education on St. Croix.
With that goal in mind, Deanna James, the foundation's chief operations officer, spent two years researching public-education reform, data and local trends. She found that the majority of dropouts leave school in the eighth grade. It is widely accepted that elementary-age students are the most critical for remedying deficiencies, and most funding is directed to them.
Many believe high schools are the most troubled, and a lot of funding goes there, as well. James came to the conclusion that working with students at the junior-high level could bridge the gap. She came up with a plan, and in the fall of 2005 launched a comprehensive model-schools initiative based on a plan successfully implemented in Georgia.
The decision was made to focus on one school in the pilot program so as not to dilute its efforts. The foundation chose Elena Christian Junior High School (ECJH) because of serious discipline and behavioral problems and challenging demographics, James says. The administration at ECJH became eager and willing partners in the initiative.
The model-schools program focuses heavily on literacy-based academic-enrichment resources. According to the St. Croix Foundation website, poor reading skills equate to poor learning skills, which directly contributes to students falling through the cracks and out of the system. On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) profiles, only seven percent of 8th graders in the Virgin Islands scored at proficient levels in reading.
Some of the objectives of the initiative are to increase reading skills, provide assessment tools to measure students' performance and evaluate the program. Another objective is to supply students and teachers with standardized-test resources in reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing styles and test-taking skills.
The first year at ECJH was very difficult because John H. Woodson Jr. High closed because of mold and the students were sent to ECJH. There was a doubling of sessions, disjointed and disruptive academic programming, and disciplinary problems. All of this ended in a school-wide riot, with 20 students taken into police custody.
"After these problems, the administrators and teachers couldn't believe we were staying and working with them," James says. From this the foundation learned invaluable lessons, and as a result made modifications.
For the 2006-07 school year, the foundation hired a site coordinator for the library and literacy coordinator who are on site daily to provide support to teachers and administrators. It hosts academic pep rallies and has an incentive program with prizes awarded to students, teachers and staff. The foundation has committed to track students through their senior year.
The foundation also secured funding from Hovensa for a state-of-the-art computer lab and technology center. The computer lab is critical for the foundation to administer key computer-based literacy programs, Reading Counts and Reading Inventory, for reports and data. As one of the accomplishments, ECJH seventh graders successfully outperformed all St. Croix seventh graders in every content area on the 2007 Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
"Ultimately our goal is to leave ECJH by 2009," James says.
In March, the foundation launched a more comprehensive phase in its Educational Incentive by hosting an education administrator's symposium featuring education expert Willard Daggett. (See "Education Expert Challenges V.I. School Officials to Change.") James and administrators decided teachers would benefit from Daggett's symposium, so on Dec. 11 the foundation is bringing Daggett back to St. Croix. He will also lecture on St. Thomas Dec. 12.
According to the foundation's website, a Youth Advisory Council is currently being developed. With a goal of exposing young people to the concept of philanthropy and charitable giving, the effort will provide grant funding for students to re-grant. This program will ultimately give students the task of identifying (and supporting) projects and/or causes within their respective local communities. It seeks to give students additional academic, civic, and extra-curricular opportunities.
"For the benefit of the students, it is nice to see we are all on the same page to make the initiative possible," James says. "It is fortunate to see so much going right."
For more information about the foundation and the Model Schools Initiative, or to make a donation, call 340-773-9898 or visit stxfoundation.org.
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Oct. 28, 2007 -- The St. Croix Foundation is known for its focus on the community, with its efforts toward town revitalization, public safety, fiduciary management and strengthening nonprofit groups.
"Another major focus of the foundation is to help prepare students to compete in the global 21st century through educational curriculums, resources and community support," says Roger Dewey, executive director of the foundation.
In recent years, the foundation has realized that the social and economic welfare of the entire community benefits from the academic success of the young people of St. Croix. The foundation has provided scholarships, but the goal is to reach more students by improving public education on St. Croix.
With that goal in mind, Deanna James, the foundation's chief operations officer, spent two years researching public-education reform, data and local trends. She found that the majority of dropouts leave school in the eighth grade. It is widely accepted that elementary-age students are the most critical for remedying deficiencies, and most funding is directed to them.
Many believe high schools are the most troubled, and a lot of funding goes there, as well. James came to the conclusion that working with students at the junior-high level could bridge the gap. She came up with a plan, and in the fall of 2005 launched a comprehensive model-schools initiative based on a plan successfully implemented in Georgia.
The decision was made to focus on one school in the pilot program so as not to dilute its efforts. The foundation chose Elena Christian Junior High School (ECJH) because of serious discipline and behavioral problems and challenging demographics, James says. The administration at ECJH became eager and willing partners in the initiative.
The model-schools program focuses heavily on literacy-based academic-enrichment resources. According to the St. Croix Foundation website, poor reading skills equate to poor learning skills, which directly contributes to students falling through the cracks and out of the system. On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) profiles, only seven percent of 8th graders in the Virgin Islands scored at proficient levels in reading.
Some of the objectives of the initiative are to increase reading skills, provide assessment tools to measure students' performance and evaluate the program. Another objective is to supply students and teachers with standardized-test resources in reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing styles and test-taking skills.
The first year at ECJH was very difficult because John H. Woodson Jr. High closed because of mold and the students were sent to ECJH. There was a doubling of sessions, disjointed and disruptive academic programming, and disciplinary problems. All of this ended in a school-wide riot, with 20 students taken into police custody.
"After these problems, the administrators and teachers couldn't believe we were staying and working with them," James says. From this the foundation learned invaluable lessons, and as a result made modifications.
For the 2006-07 school year, the foundation hired a site coordinator for the library and literacy coordinator who are on site daily to provide support to teachers and administrators. It hosts academic pep rallies and has an incentive program with prizes awarded to students, teachers and staff. The foundation has committed to track students through their senior year.
The foundation also secured funding from Hovensa for a state-of-the-art computer lab and technology center. The computer lab is critical for the foundation to administer key computer-based literacy programs, Reading Counts and Reading Inventory, for reports and data. As one of the accomplishments, ECJH seventh graders successfully outperformed all St. Croix seventh graders in every content area on the 2007 Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
"Ultimately our goal is to leave ECJH by 2009," James says.
In March, the foundation launched a more comprehensive phase in its Educational Incentive by hosting an education administrator's symposium featuring education expert Willard Daggett. (See "Education Expert Challenges V.I. School Officials to Change.") James and administrators decided teachers would benefit from Daggett's symposium, so on Dec. 11 the foundation is bringing Daggett back to St. Croix. He will also lecture on St. Thomas Dec. 12.
According to the foundation's website, a Youth Advisory Council is currently being developed. With a goal of exposing young people to the concept of philanthropy and charitable giving, the effort will provide grant funding for students to re-grant. This program will ultimately give students the task of identifying (and supporting) projects and/or causes within their respective local communities. It seeks to give students additional academic, civic, and extra-curricular opportunities.
"For the benefit of the students, it is nice to see we are all on the same page to make the initiative possible," James says. "It is fortunate to see so much going right."
For more information about the foundation and the Model Schools Initiative, or to make a donation, call 340-773-9898 or visit stxfoundation.org.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.