Among the freshmen class at St. Clair High School, there has been a significant decrease in the number of failing grades compared to this time last year due to the school’s Intensive Care Unit for academics program.

Implemented this school year, the ICU program was created to help freshmen complete and turn in missing assignments. The high school is part of an ICU data base that keeps track of every missing assignment among students submitted by teachers.

According to Principal Jennifer Davis, freshmen earned a total of 66 failing grades for first semester of the 2016-17 school year. At the end of first semester this year, there was a total of nine failing grades.

“Our hardworking and dedicated staff and students have created an 85 percent decrease in the amount of freshmen F’s in our first year of implementation,” Davis told The Missourian.

Science teacher Ben Martin said in his 23 years in education, he’s have never seen any implementation with this level of effectiveness this quickly.

“It’s not about programs, it’s about people, and Mr. (Paul) Codespoti is passionate about this.”

When a student’s name is on the ICU database list, an automatic text message and two emails detailing the assignment are sent to their parents.

Teachers will inform students of the missing assignment and they have one day to get off the list. If students fail to do so, instructor Paul Codespoti will take them to the ICU room to finish their assignments.

Testimonial

Davis visited with a freshman student in the ICU room last week.

“I asked him if he failed any classes. (The) ninth-grade boy’s response (was) ‘No, I am passing everything,’ ” Davis said.

“I asked how that made him feel. His response (was) ‘It feels good to be passing all my classes.’ ”

She also asked him why he was doing so much better than in the last couple of years and his response was not what she expected.

“I thought he would say because you all make me do my work since we have ICU. But, what he said stopped me cold. He said, ‘Because I know you care about me.’ 

“So, by showing him that we would not allow him to take zeroes; by showing him we would help him; by showing him that his learning was/and is important; and by providing him the extra time; basically making him responsible for his work by giving him supports; he learned that we care about him and because we care about him we won’t take excuses for not working or doing his schoolwork,” Davis said.

How It Began

Wayne Dierker, former math teacher and current principal at Lonedell R-XIV School District, encouraged teachers and staff at St. Clair High to look into the ICU program and how it can help students, according to Davis. He arranged for Davis and a group of teachers to visit Russell Hawkins Junior High in Jackson to see how the ICU program works.

“We visited with teachers, counselors, students and principals while on our learning field trip. And, most importantly, we were able to see ICU and their ‘life guard’ in action,” Davis said.

They were given ICU books from Principal Cory Crosnoe written by Danny Hill and Jayson Nave.

“We greatly appreciate Mr. Dierker presenting the solution of ICU and setting up the tour,” she added.

After the field trip, a building-wide study was done which found that 98 students were not on track for graduation with their peers, according to Davis.

“That number alone was staggering and deserved a fresh approach. Alternative placement and alternative path to graduation should be a very small percentage of students.

“So we looked at other ways we could address the challenges we were/are having with students. The first of those challenges was and is student apathy,” she said.

Last year, Davis said she and teachers approached the St. Clair School District School Board including Superintendent Kyle Kruse and Assistant Superintendent Nadine Aitch with a plan that would end apathy and increase student engagement. 

The board approved the ICU program and Codespoti, who taught social studies, became the ICU instructor, as known as the “life guard,” and a para was moved from the library media center to the ICU room to assist.

“We appreciate the board and our central office’s support of this approach. Our parents love it because they have instant communication from teachers. We greatly appreciate our parents’ support because that has been a key to their student’s success.” 

Explanation

In the spring of 2017, high school staff met with eighth-grader teachers to explain the ICU program for the following school year.  

“We also worked with them to analyze student data and hear teacher recommendations for a summer school study skill class with Mr. Codespoti.

In addition, 20 incoming freshmen were given pretests in reading and math to identify their skill set with Codespoti.

“They worked on organization and good work habits at school. They toured the high school and had lunch with some of their ninth-grade teachers and wrapped up their week with a field trip,” Davis said.

ICU Hours

Codespoti is here for students every day from 7:15-8 a.m. and from 3:15-4 p.m.

Tutoring is also available from 4-6 p.m. on Mondays for science, on Tuesdays and Thursdays for math, and on Wednesdays for English.

“Please encourage your students to access this support if they need a little extra help or a more structured study environment,” Davis said.