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Academic Advocate Program helps JP Manning Elementary School students discover their potential

2017-2018 Academic Advocate Program Participants

Facilitated by Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Community Health and Wellness Department, the Academic Advocate Program at JP Manning Elementary School pairs BWFH staff members with second- through fifth-grade students who face difficulties in and/or out of school. The program, in its fifth year, is designed to help students build skills and grow confidence.

Over the 2017–2018 school year, the academic advocates met with their students weekly or every other week. The advocates’ role is that of cheerleader, helping students work through the issues that are preventing their success in and/or out of school. They were encouraged to ask what happened when things didn’t go well and praise students when things did go well.

Director of Development Betsy Cross, CFRE, has been an academic advocate for three years with the same student. “I have seen her grow so much and we’ve become great friends,” she says. “I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with her when she goes off to middle school next year!”

Senior Quality Improvement Analyst Kathy Newcomb, RHIT, has been an academic advocate for four years with the same student. She too is watching her student move on to her next chapter. “I have watched her grow both academically and emotionally,” she says. “She lives with her grandmother who is raising her with help from her uncle. She has been through so much more than any child should, but yet she greets you with a smile every time and is so full of love. I can only hope that I have made a small impact on her life, I know she has made a huge impact on mine. I do hope to keep in touch with her after she leaves the Manning. She gave me a magnet last year and asked me to hang it in my office. It reads: ‘To The World You May Be One Person, But To One Person You May Be The World.’ That quote really stayed with me.”

For the BWFH staff members new to the program, the experience has been no less rewarding. Web and Multimedia Specialist Caitlyn Slowe says,I really enjoyed spending time with the kids. I lucked out with some great mentors when I was their age, so it’s rewarding to try to pay that forward.”

Community Health and Wellness Assistant Katie Plante, MS, CHES, found her experience as an academic advocate to be personally fulfilling. “Getting to meet with my fourth-grade student is one of the best parts of my week,” she says. “The program is such a fundamentally important one for these kids, but also for the adults involved. Everyone should get to meet with one of these amazing students—you really learn a lot.”

Are you interested in being an academic advocate? Contact Tracy Sylven, Director of BWFH’s Community Health and Wellness Department, at or 617-983-7451 for more information.

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