In 2011, ATJ brought Transform to New Designs Charter School (NDCS), a middle and high school located in Watts, California, one of the most underserved, high-stress communities in metropolitan Los Angeles. Children in Watts must handle an inordinate amount of stress daily. As a result, many are easily distracted, quick to anger and slow to calm down. In such an atmosphere, promoting academic achievement is a formidable challenges.
Clients – New Designs Charter School
Following solid research and pilot program testing, ATJ employed techniques with NDCS students that are found in mindfulness, yoga, drumming and other healing methods to help them stay calm, centered, focused and motivated. They learned how to gain control of their bodies and emotions, how to cope in stressful situations, and how to set and achieve goals.
In just the first year after Transform was introduced, students’ behavioral problems at NDCS decreased significantly. The students are now better able to handle their emotions, cope with frustrations, work out differences constructively, and make their studies a priority. Benchmark science test scores for NDCS 8th graders at the end of the first academic year after Transform was introduced were twice as high as the scores on tests conducted at the beginning of the year. Students participating in Transform also increased their scores on math and reading tests.
The students have brought their Transform training home, resulting in improved communication with parents and siblings. Their newfound skills will continue to serve them as they grow into adulthood. Their self-control, focusing and goal-setting abilities will empower them to resist drugs and gangs, stay in school, graduate and embrace a brighter future.
The school’s CEO, Dr. Yaw Adutwum, said that while rigorous academics and the setting of high expectations help create the kind of learning environment that produces scholars and leaders, a child’s development of social, emotional and behavioral skills is equally important to success. “The Transform program provides this critical piece,” Dr. Adutwum said, “and together we are equipping our students with the skills needed for a bright, successful future.”
Transform’s successes can benefit children in other schools and communities. ATJ is working to create a model that can be replicated in schools well beyond the areas we currently serve.