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The biggest problem in education reform today is the perspective in which change is made. Our most admirable education reformers, namely, Wendy Kopp and Arne Duncan have never gone to or through an inner-city public school themselves. Thus, many of the initiatives to improve the public education system are done from an “outside-looking in” perspective. We are children of immigrants and we went to and through some of the most academically struggling public schools and were blessed with the opportunity to attend an ivy-league school. Starting and growing Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) is nothing short of our purpose. This new organization fills many of the gaps that need to be addressed in public education: building an intrinsic appreciation for learning, creating positive role models for students to emulate, rebuilding the environment that our students live in, training teachers to work in high need low-income areas, and providing jobs for our teenagers to give them hope in their future and our economy.
PMP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides summer enrichment to narrow the achievement gap in low-income neighborhoods through a 4-year mentorship program. PMP targets academically struggling middle school students who spend a summer rebuilding their confidence and appreciation for learning, and models strong academic habits through friendly relationships with ambitious high school mentors. The mentors—all high school students attending inner-city public schools—engage in a curriculum themselves, which increases their awareness of goal setting, college scholarship opportunities, and the PSAT/SAT. High school students act as positive role models for our middle school students. College interns will typically lead refresher lessons or encourage a high school student before their mentees work on the problems. The unique intergenerational approach is structured such that there are two middle school students paired with one high school student under the supervision of college students in a ratio of 30 to 15 to 5, respectively.
PMP is our opportunity to take education reform into our own hands and communicate many of the systemic issues in education to policy makers and the educated citizens who create our legislations. We have also operated PMP for two years and have experience dealing with the day-to-day challenges and operations.