GRANVILLE — The incentive program at Putnam County High School, sponsored through the generosity of Marquis Energy, has evolved since being established three years ago, and the benefits have gone beyond the educational and financial.
The mentoring program, now known as MEł, began after Marquis representatives met with Superintendent Carl Carlson in 2016 and shared a desire to define an academic goal-setting program.
It consists of students working with assigned mentors to submit an application detailing two goals they’d like to achieve during the semester. Depending on how well they meet those goals, the students are then financially rewarded.
“I’ve loved it as a principal. It’s helped build relationships between our staff and students in a very important way. When students have a problem, even if it’s not related to this program, they’ve begun talking about it with their mentors, and that’s an incredibly valuable thing to have,” Principal Clayton Theisinger said during the Feb. 1 award luncheon.
According to Theisinger, the goals “must be rigorous and based on previous academic and behavioral data.” Accepted students then continue to work with their mentors on a weekly basis throughout the semester in order to accomplish their chosen goals.
Mentors can provide important and motivational assistance to the students because each works with only one or two students.
The first goal a student must set is a “quantitative goal,” one that can be measured to show an improvement in academic performance. The second can be another quantitative goal or a “qualitative goal,” one that facilitates and improves the quantitative goal and that can be observed rather than measured.
The fall 2016 semester served as the pilot and was offered only to seniors. It’s now being offered to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in the hope that early development of mentoring relationships will provide four years of academic achievement.
“Research shows a positive and focused relationship with a teacher directly correlates with academic and behavioral success, and the program essentially provides explicit opportunity for this relationship to develop,” Theisinger previously said.
The program has also been expanded to include DePue and Henry-Senachwine schools.
“Each school has tailored it a bit in order to fit their individual needs,” Dennis Thompson of Marquis Energy said.
Students who attend all of their mentor meetings receive $100; students who meet one of their goals and attend all meetings will receive $300; and those meeting both goals and attending all meetings receive $600.
“This program helps our students foster a vision and also teaches them do what they need to be doing in order to achieve their goals in life,” Theisinger said.
Students have said it was learning how to define and set goals that was the most beneficial aspect of the program. Others said it’s helped them do better academically and has provided the incentive needed to succeed in the subjects they find most challenging.
“We want to improve performance and change behaviors in the hope we can help change a student’s trajectory so they grow into being successful and productive citizens,” Thompson said.
“It’s a rigorous program, and not everyone succeeds, but there are still valuable lessons in that,” Theisinger previously said.
Marquis Energy is the largest dry-mill ethanol facility in the United States and has a production capacity of more than 300 million gallons of ethanol a year.
Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis Energy, has previously said, “The success of our local students is a major priority to Marquis, and we want students to realize their full academic potential and take pride in their work. We are proud to invest in our future leaders and are encouraged by the program’s monumental success.”