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CTAG adds girls to program for at-risk students




CMSD’s Closing the Achievement Gap program is no longer just for male students.

Started more than 10 years ago for boys because they were considered to be at particularly high risk of failure in high school, CTAG has expanded to include girls at Glenville and East Tech. Administrators hope to eventually serve girls at nine high schools, just like the boys program, project Manager Samantha Holmes said.

Latia Taylor at East Tech and Tamara Barkley at Glenville assumed their roles as “linkage coordinators” last month. They work with girls individually and in small groups on building self-esteem, developing confidence, dealing with conflict and other concerns.

Barkley formerly worked as an academic advisor at Bryant & Stratton College and also founded GEMS (Girls Emotionally & Mentally Strong), which provides advocacy and programming for girls who are 11 to 17 years old.

She said her focus at Glenville includes motivating girls who cannot envision a life that is beyond their neighborhood or free from poverty.

“A lot of them see school as just something to do or somewhere to go,” Barkley said.

Taylor previously served the District as an intervention specialist, working with small groups of special-education students. So far, she is assisting more than 20 girls at East Tech and says she has been well received.

“They seem excited, like they have been waiting for someone to come and hear them,” she said.

CTAG benefits ninth-graders, and eighth-graders heading to high school, who are identified through risk factors that include attendance, suspensions, age older than typical for the grade level and failure in two or more core subjects. The boys program has included a summer “bridge camp” for eighth-graders moving up to high school, a spring bus trip to colleges and other activities and field trips.

CMSD initially supported the program with state money, later used foundation and federal funds and now pays for the boys program with money from its general fund. Cuyahoga County awarded CMSD up to more than $407,800 to fund the girls program through at least the end of 2019.

Glenville Principal Jackie Bell welcomed the decision to include girls in CTAG.

“They have just as many issues and just as much drama in their lives,” she said. “They need someone to assist them.”

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