Mentor Keith Pittman with a group of boys at Arthur Ashe Charter School's eighth grade commencement exercise. We haven't got all the results from all our schools yet, but at this commencement exercise our boys once again dominated the academic awards. Of seven high achieving awards for the L.E.A.P. five were taken by the boys, a performance that once again helped Ashe be a top performer in their charter group.
I managed to catch up with some of our boys at Dibert's commencement, where they represented themselves very well as well. We understand that Dibert was second only to Ashe in their charter group for L.E.A.P. performance. At one time some administrators feared that the time we use for our sessions might have hurt their academic performance, but now all the administrators at all our schools now agree, the hour we spend has a multiplier effect on the boys academic interest, improves their cooperation and as a result increases their performance and citizenship.
As an organization that needs men to invest their time, and others to invest resources to accomplish our work we believe that it is important that we have our work evaluated. What we do feels good, for both the volunteers and the boys we spend time with, but in order to be true to the families and sometimes workplaces that make allowances for men to be able to do this work, as well to those foundations, companies, charitable organizations and individuals who are financing the infrastructure, we have to be accountable so we believe we have to be able to produce credible evidence about the impact we are having on our boys and the schools that are trying to educate them.
To that end Dr. Charles Corprew of Loyola University, who's career focus is boys and men of color has spent this school year studying our work at four of our participating schools. He did an extensive survey of the boys feelings and attitudes before we began and has just collected surveys at the end of our program year. He has also completed interviews with boys and is interviewing teachers and administrators and looking at other data. We expect his formal report in August. He has however shared his impressions from the interviews with the boys and seems like "they got it", meaning they believe that their education is important. Of course if we weren't confident about our work we wouldn't have engaged such an in depth study and I certainly wouldn't have made it my life's work. So if we are getting kids to become more serious about school before entering high school, as the song says "I'm Happy" and I believe our supporters will be as well.
Right before he retired from the WDSU Newsroom, Norman Robinson produced eight minutes and forty three seconds of video that tells our story better than it has ever been done before, and we expected no less. From the time that Norman called and committed to working with our boys he said he wanted to do a comprehensive piece on the Silverback Society, not a "run and gun" send a camera out and edit something for the daily news show story. Instead he came and shot footage of each phrase of our program, from beginning to end and then sat with an editor, wrote copy and did a voice over that communicates the essence of who we are and what we do. We will be using it to tell our story to volunteers, philanthropists, foundations and government officials alike. Armed with this video and Dr. Corprew's report we are ready to really get this movement moving.
Mentor Cornell Manuel has informed us that the brothers in the Prince Hall Shriners are interested in being the third men's organization to take advantage of the infrastructure and system we have developed to help groups of men be effective mentors for groups of boys. They are joining the Progressive Men of New Orleans and the Original Dukes as men who will help produce a next generation with their eyes on achievement and responsibility. These organizations are sorely needed as we have six new schools coming aboard next year, increasing our footprint from seven to thirteen schools. The following year we plan to be in every public school in New Orleans... and perhaps one in Mississippi, but that's another story...