Off-campus suspensions that last up to 10 days are an unfortunate reality in many junior high schools. A local group, interested in providing constructive options for students serving out-of-school suspensions from local junior high schools, created a plan of action. Their goal: to provide a safe, supervised environment where Bloomington-Normal junior high students, who are at risk of academic failure, can serve off-campus school suspensions at a secure community site. After consultation with school administrators and other education professionals, a one-month pilot program called Rebound was first offered during April, 2010. The results were encouraging, and evaluations by the principals of the four participating junior high schools yielded positive comments and an interest in continuing the program.
The program provides academic support, behavior analysis and behavior modification to help students improve their chances for future success in school.
Rebound staff members help the students complete assignments, analyze their own behavior that resulted in the suspension, and learn social-emotional skills such as anger management, to prevent a repetition of that behavior.
Rebound Committee members are local volunteers, working with the community to help keep suspended junior high students out of trouble—and in school. One 2010 student commented in the exit survey, that “if it hadn’t been for Rebound, I would have been watching TV or messing around at home.” (Or he might have been on the streets in real trouble.)
The Rebound coordinator and assistant have appropriate degrees and experience. Volunteer “mentors” help provide one-on-one tutoring and homework assistance. All participate in Rebound orientation, meet background checks, and then provide tutoring, assistance for student self-assessment, analysis of the behavior that caused the suspension, and training in SEL skills (Social and Emotional Learning), through the use of Second Step Violence Prevention materials. These skills— empathy, anger management, problem-solving, and bullying-prevention—provide students with tools for addressing behavioral problems.
Rebound also makes appropriate referrals to supportive agencies, and offers transportation and school coordination, as needed.
Rebound Committee co-chairs Barbara Stuart and Kimberly Pfeifer, along with other community committee members, are now seeking donations to fund Rebound for 2013’s Spring session.
Adult volunteers are always needed to serve as mentors and to provide tutoring assistance.