Freshmen students at Ralston High School are about to get a helping hand from a Freshman Success Coordinator.
Director of Teaching and Learning for Ralston Public Schools Cecilia Wilken said the freshman success coordinator is a new administrative role that came about after the district reflected on how it could best support freshmen students.
“We’ve been learning a lot about the freshmen cohort and the importance of how if students are on track in their freshman year, they’re much more likely to graduate on time” Wilken said.
Wilken said in the meantime the district has navigated the reality of COVID-19.
“We have gone back to what it is that we need to do to help ensure that our students are as successful as possible and reach their potential, and from that, we have decided to start with having a freshman success coordinator next year,” Wilken said.
Jordan Engel, current teacher at Ralston Public Schools will step into the role next school year.
Engel has taught in RPS since 2014, taught at Ralston Middle school for two years and afterwards has since taught at RHS.
Engel received her masters degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in educational leadership with a focus in work based learning.
Engel said there is a lot that goes into why an incoming freshman might be intimidated by the idea of high school.
“I think it’s mainly the new environment and they don’t want to admit that they’re nervous about the new environment, I think that the nerves also come from them wanting to fit in,” Engel said.
Jesse Tvrdy, Ralston High School Principal said when looking at teaming ninth grade at the building level, the high school is trying to look at how the school is supporting the whole student.
“By teaming our students and having a freshmen success coordinator, the hope is that these students are shared by a core group of teachers and we have someone on the outside, who is not in the classroom that has a very well rounded knowledge of the student,” Tvrdy said.
Tvrdy said the freshman success coordinator can do some of the groundwork and legwork outside of the classroom to help support students.
This support could come in the form of helping a student come up with goals around attendance, helping a student with a social and emotional conflict, how to disagree with a peer, how to choose good friend groups or how to advocate for themselves in the classroom.
Engel said she is looking forward to the transition piece of the role from middle to high school.
“I have been fortunate, I have taught at the middle school before, and I saw when I was teaching at the middle school, how valuable it was to have a relationship already with those students as they were transitioning to the high school,” Engel said.
Engel said she is looking at ways to improve the Bridge Program to better serve students.
The program, similar to its Ralston Middle School counterpart, helps incoming freshmen become comfortable in their soon-to-be new environment.
“I’m also just really excited to collaborate with the staff here at Ralston High School that will be working with the freshmen specifically, I think it will be a great opportunity to collaborate in new ways and to be creative in new ways,” Engel said.
Both Tvrdy and Wilken agreed that Engel is primed for success in her new role.
“She is someone that exudes positivity, hope and problem solving, I think that when students work with her, she comes with the mindset of how I am going to be able to assist this student or this program in a way that is going to make it better for our kids,” Tvrdy said.