Launched at Putnam County, Marquis Energy’s program expanding to DePue
GRANVILLE — Thanks to the generosity and sense of community spirit at Marquis Energy, Putnam County High School has had a valuable incentive and mentoring program that has encouraged both the students and staff for the past three semesters — the Panther Progress Program, or P³ (P-cubed).
Marquis Energy officials met with Superintendent Carl Carlson in 2016 and shared a desire to define an academic goal-setting program where students work with assigned mentors to submit an application detailing two goals they would like to work on throughout the semester.
“It’s helped put a focus and emphasis on the individual student because it’s unfortunately all too easy to think of the collective, and the mentoring involved has allowed for the formation of meaningful relationships between our staff and students which, in some cases, has continued beyond the student’s time here at PCHS,” Principal Clayton Theisinger said.
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 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.
Students initially received $300 if their goals and time commitments were met. During the pilot semester, 21 students participated, and almost 50 percent achieved both of their goals and met the time requirements with their mentors.
However, Theisinger added those students not meeting their goals still came extremely close and showed tremendous gains.
The program has now been changed so that students who meet some, but not all, of their goals can still receive an encouraging incentive to continue their efforts.
“Students who attend all of their mentor meetings will 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 will receive $600,” Marquis Energy’s Dennis Thompson said at a celebratory luncheon held at PCHS on May 22.
PCHS freshman Katelynn Missel, of Lostant, said it was learning how to define and set goals that was the most beneficial aspect of joining the program, a thought shared by all the students spoken to that day and confirmed by Theisinger.
Other benefits were also mentioned. Sophomore Jack Buffington said it’s helped him to do better academically and has provided the incentive needed to succeed in the subjects he finds most challenging.
“You have to be very in-depth with your goals, and it’s been hard to maintain everything,” he said.
Another student said the most important aspect of the program to her has been “having someone to talk to.”
There are approximately 20 students in the program, and although not all succeed in meeting the requirements to receive the financial incentives, there are still benefits to be had.
“It’s a rigorous program, and not everyone succeeds, but there are still valuable lessons in that,” Theisinger said.
Because of the success of the PCHS program, Marquis Energy has begun offering it to other schools, although with a different name. According to Thompson, the program will now be called M³ (M-cubed), in reference to the three educators within the Marquis family.
He said the details of the program have been presented to the high schools in DePue and Henry.
“The DePue School Board has already approved and signed off on it, and we’re proud to be able to offer it to them,” Thompson 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 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.”