Learning, Individualized Needs, Knowledge and Skills

LINKS provides a systemic approach to student academic, career, and personal/social supports for middle and high school students. It is a research-based program that supports the notion that 'student success is everyone's responsibility. It is a framework and curriculum for student advisement programs in West Virginia. LINKS is a fluid system that is easily adapted to each school’s design, culture, and other school-wide programs. It not only provides a structure for delivery of specific academic, career, and personal/social content standard, but it enables each student to obtain essential Global 21 content regardless of transitioning from school to school in West Virginia. Yet, the structure allows for some adaptations to deliver specific content that may be of specific need in each particular school.

LINKS is not a separate “Program,” but instead links to every component of the educational program. It brings students, school staff, parents, the community, businesses, and other organizations together to enhance each student’s educational experience by connecting rigor, relevance, and relationships. It brings forth systemic change required in today’s Global 21 schools to prepare our students for today’s global workplace.

When students are faced with personal/social barriers brought on by today’s changing family dynamics, including living at or below the poverty level, low expectations, lack of technology in some homes, domestic violence issues, family break-up, and dealing with parents with drug additions or their own substance abuse issues it is often difficult to go to the classroom prepared to learn. In accordance with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, when basic needs aren’t being met, career planning and self-actualization is at the bottom of the priority list, particularly when individuals are not supported by a caring adult. It is important for these students to have an adult they can talk to who will support them and encourage them to stay in school. In West Virginia, out of every 100 9th graders, only 73 earn a high school diploma, and only 16 of these students go on to earn a four year degree within six years of graduating from high school. Kids Count 2006 and other state data shows staggering facts about our students and substantiates a need for the LINKS program. This data shows that:

Malcolm Smith, the founder of Peaceful Interventions who conducts national workshops called "Why are Kids So Angry and What Can We Do about It?" interviewed over 300 students who fatally shot, stabbed, or beat other human beings. He found one commonality among these students -- they all believed that not one adult cared whether they succeeded or failed. Kids who are successful have a dream and hope for the future. They also have a significant adult relationship. LINKS can help students build dreams, give hope for the future, and connect students with that caring adult.

LINKS also provides an avenue to fulfill requirements of WVBOE Policy 2510: Students should be provided with an adult mentor who takes an interest in the students’ successful learning, goal setting and career planning, and personal growth. This policy also recommends that schools implement an organized advisory program to remove the randomness of interpersonal associations for student by personalizing their learning environment. This program needs to be tied into assessment. Teachers should notice when their students have attendance problems, academic issues, and behavioral issues.

LINKS fulfills requirements of Policy 2315 to train teachers/advisors in the following areas:

  1. Understanding curriculum requirements at each level and the importance of taking rigorous courses
  2. Helping students make more informed educational and career choices
  3. Providing an adult advocate for each student in the school
  4. Promoting better communication among the school, students, and parents/guardians.
  5. Teaching some components of developmental guidance.

LINKS is an avenue to deliver many of the components of the Global 21 Learning Initiative, but particularly LIFE SKILLS. In the framework document, it states that “Good Teachers have always incorporated life skills into their pedagogy. The challenge today is to incorporate these essential skills into schools deliberately, strategically, and broadly. Life skills include leadership, ethics, accountability, adaptability, personal productivity, personal responsibility, social skills, self-direction, and social responsibility. These skills can be taught through LINKS and reinforced through the rest of the curriculum along with Learning and Thinking Skills. Through concise well-planned lessons students and advisors alike will have opportunities to learn and practice these skills so that they become part of the school culture and the foundation of the learning environment.

LINKS fluid structure allows schools to form strategic partnerships with other Global 21 programs and share content, lesson delivery, and professional development through their websites. This program guide gives educators the tools they need to easily implement the LINKS program.