What Principals Are Saying

It is my pleasure to write a letter of reference for the Five Star Program.

Five Star has been an integral part of Discovery Middle School for over six years. The program has not only made a great impact on our students academically and emotionally, but also plays a vital role in our positive school climate.

It has been my observation that the Five Star staff has a wonderful rapport with Discovery Middle School students. They are highly engaged people who reach out to middle aged children on Thursday’s after school. They show passion, enthusiasm, energy, and purpose in their presentations and activities with our students. Their ability to connect with students, and talent in planning creative and interactive age appropriate activities has proven to be effective. They accomplish these tasks with great initiative, joy, and a deep sense of purpose, keeping up with the latest student cultural changes.

Five Star is excellent for all of our students, but especially our population of students who may struggle socially, emotionally, and academically. I’ve observed students on the fringe who attend Five Star that have borderline behavioral and academic issues turn school around for the better. They address topics such as bullying, leadership, character development, accountability, and relationships to name a few. They also have staff members that help tutor students who are at risk of failing one or more classes. This has certainly made a positive difference and impact on our students and school culture.

If you have any questions in regards to the Five Star program and its positive impact on Discovery Middle School, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Troy Kauffman
Assistant Principal
Discovery Middle School

To Whom It May Concern:

In his book All Kids Are Our Kids Peter Benson, president of the Search Institute in Minneapolis, “targets all who seek to bring about positive change for the sake of children and adolescents in our society. He prompts action in anyone who knows, sees, lives next to, works with or passes by children and adolescents.” His work with the Search Institute has shown that in order for children to succeed in life they need long-term relationships with many positive adult role models, caring schools, opportunities to serve, and a community of people and places that value youth.

At West Side Middle School we have provided our students with one more opportunity to help build the developmental assets that they need to be successful adults and community members. 5-STAR is an after school program that strives to connect students with positive adult role models who inspire students to achieve their goals. After several years of having the 5-STAR program in our building, we are convinced that 5-STAR is a program that we can’t live without and West Side Middle School. Students who participate in the program have shown a positive change in attitude, a desire to do better academically and a sense of respect for those around them. The success with out most at-risk students has been phenomenal!

There is strong research that shows the importance of kids being involved in activities beyond the school day. Athletic programs and music programs provide this opportunity for some of our students. 5 STAR has offered this same opportunity to a great number of kids who were not involved in after school activities. We know that it has made a significant difference for our students and you know that it is important to them when in the hallway the kids are saying to me, “I can’t wait for 5 STAR tonight!” I am so grateful that I can offer this opportunity for our students and will continue to find any way that I can support this program for my students.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you have concerning the program. Please feel free to call me and arrange a time to come and see the program in action. It is always the highlight of my week!

Kristie Stutsman
West Side Middle School

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Nelda Billescas; I am the Principal of Olle Middle School in the Alief Independent School District.  I am the proud leader of an Urban Title 1 Campus in the city of Houston, Texas.  Like you, I have always been a firm believer in the impact each individual provides the success of their respective communities.

While Olle Middle School has been in existence for 42 years and has served communities that were predominantly Caucasian and middle to upper class, the community has seen a transformation.  The transformation has shifted from 90% Caucasian in the 80s and 90s, 80% African American in first decade of the 21st Century to 70% Hispanic.  While the demographics have changed, so has the economic status and community.  Students in this community have suffered through a myriad of circumstances impacting their psycho-social needs thereby impeding their academic success.  Research states that if the prefrontal cortex is inundated with cortisol hormone, students are incapable of using their executive function.  In short, kids can’t learn when their stress levels are high.

In the article by Christopher Bergland, “Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1,” he outlines the dangers of stress, thereby validating how a program like Five Star literally becomes a matter of life or death for our kids.  The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. This week, two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

With science and data at our hands, we have identified the need to address our psycho-social needs to help develop self-esteem, coping skills, and socialization.  Five Star has been a savior for our campus.  They have given our students a platform to learn how to develop character qualities that allow them to find hope needed to navigate the difficulties they encounter daily.  This program has helped students focus on school, social skills, and conquer fear.  One of the classic issues I have identified with our students is the stifling fear character trait.  Students would much rather receive a zero for not trying than to fail when they put forth effort.  Hopelessness is in full force in our community, and Five Star is one facet I have chosen to be the solution.

Thank you for uniting with us in the fight for the future of our children and generations to come.

Yours in Education,
Nelda Billescas
Olle Middle School

Our Vision

Over 7,000 Students Drop Out Of School Every Day

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