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Military-connected middle schoolers get federal support


Dent Middle School students in military-connected families are getting some additional support aimed at improving student achievement. Richland School District Two recently received a $250,000 Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) grant for the “The Promising Pathways for Dent Middle School Project.”  Approximately 1,249 students in grades six through 12 will benefit from the four-year, comprehensive project that has two specific goals:
1) Increase academic outcomes of military dependent middle school students in math.
2) Increase the level of social-emotional supports for military dependent students. 
Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis says this grant will help teachers and administrators better understand and adequately meet the needs of students who frequently relocate and may have parents deployed overseas.  
“The Promising Pathways project employs research-based instructional strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness in improving achievement,” said Dr. Davis. “Having the capacity to reach out to these students and their families will go a long way in creating a more positive middle school experience.”     
The project provides funding for a wide range of activities, including after school tutoring and transportation; math manipulatives, such as GeoModel Relational Solids, to deepen the understanding of complex mathematical concepts; and virtual learning. Additionally, the project provides Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) professional development for all staff which, based on widely held research, will increase the likelihood that students will remain in school, graduate and become productive citizens. Students will get supportive social-emotional assistance through specialized counseling, peer support, and mentoring programs. Families will have the opportunity to attend “Student Showcase Nights” where students will share their knowledge. 
Participation and feedback for all activities and events planned at Dent will be tracked annually and will help ensure funds are used effectively. Richland Two’s trademark integration of technology into the class setting will play an important role in the overall success of this project.