Along program make Rochester Public Schools a case study in 'changed perspectives'
Director Samia Zaidi said the program allows teachers to maximize their reach to students.
ROCHESTER — Rochester Public Schools became the subject of a case study after it piloted an educational program focused on increasing a sense of belonging among students.
The results from Rochester's experience with the program, called Along, were posted to the program's website under the following heading: "Here’s how one school district changed perspectives and broke barriers using Along."
The survey of Rochester's experience with Along was based on 42 teachers and 350 students. The district's results stemmed from the 2021-22 school year.
Along Program Director Samia Zaidi said the program allows teachers to maximize their reach to students.
"That was a huge thing for me. Have I connected with all my kids, or have I gone an entire day or multiple days or a week and not had a one-on-one conversation?" she said. "And so I think these results in Rochester and the conversation we've had across multiple schools help us see that creating that space actually does lead to impact."
The program allows teachers to send out prompts to their students and record a reflection to the prompt. Students are then encouraged to respond in like.
According to the case study, 83% of students "said that Along has helped their teacher get to know them."
On the flip side of that equation, 81% of teachers "said that Along helped them be more open with their students."
Prior to using along, 88% of teachers agreed with the statement, "I showed my students that they matter to me." After using the program, that number jumped to 98%.
Will Ruffin II, RPS director of equity and engagement, spoke about the results of the program last summer to the Rochester School Board, saying the district had moved the program beyond the classroom to counselors and social workers.
Superintendent Kent Pekel contributed to the research behind the creation of the program before he took over leadership of RPS. It was created with the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a national philanthropy run by Priscilla Chan, wife of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.