According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African-American children, children in urban districts, and children born in poverty are at the highest risk of dropping out of school. Those who drop out report a low sense of belonging and engagement in school.
Prime Fit Youth Foundation is looking to bring a shift in Wichita K-8 education by aiming to support not only the academic needs of children but also the non-academic ones.
Founded by Teon and Dr.Kimberly Wilson, Prime Fit mentorship is comprised of Teon and four other full-time mentors who meet with 120 students daily from Spaght, Mueller, Gordon Parks Academy, Clark, Buckner, and L'Ouverture.
The students chosen to be a part of Primefit’s program are identified by teachers and administration as potential benefactors of mentorship. Those selected for the program are those the schools believe would benefit from academic and/or social emotional support. Students must receive permission from a parent or guardian to participate.
Prime Fit mentorship program consists of four major components:
● Daily check-ins where mentors meet with their mentees during school and have conversations that can range from a set of structured assistance and support activities to an informal buddy system.
● Weekly mentor-mentee sessions that focus on self-regulation, leadership, problem-solving, and relationships in a larger group setting.
● As-needed de-escalation intervention with administration if a mentee is having issues in the classroom
● Bi-weekly progress reports/communication with parents.
Mentoring programs in schools are valuable, simple initiatives that all communities and schools can embrace. By simply facilitating connections, students find outlets for personal growth and school work support, parents have allies to assist in their child’s development, and teachers will have their work reinforced.
"Teachers can't do it all because there's so much on their plate. So it takes the community rallying around kids and teachers, it's not just academic needs anymore, you know, kids go through a lot emotionally and physically, and they bring that with them to school," said Dr.Wilson.
Prime Fit measures its impact on students across six categories. Establishing goals and connecting metrics to those goals is important in mentorship because, without data to back up the developments, the program has no way of proving their work is benefiting the student. Here is how Prime Fit finished the 2020-2021 school year:
- Academic Achievement- 93.3% of teachers reported positive or improved academic achievement.
- Attendance- 96% of mentees demonstrated positive or improved attendance.
- Suspension/Expulsions- 96% of teachers reported a reduction in both categories.
- School Connectedness- mentees displayed an increase in their sense of school connectedness.
- Self-Efficacy- mentees learned how to use their "voice" in a classroom setting correctly.
- Self-Regulation- mentees increased their knowledge of and use of self-regulation techniques.
"Prime Fit mentoring program literally saved my nephew's school year. The connection they made with him came at a much-needed time in his life after just losing his mom. I can't thank them enough," said the Aunt of a mentee.
As a part of the program, Mentees can also receive tutoring that incorporates anything from note-taking and homework skills to time management and test preparation, from college-educated and trained tutors. The program partners with Dr.William Polite and USD 259's Office of Diversity Equity and Accountability
In addition to tutoring, Prime Fit also focuses on the benefits of fitness for their mentees. Staying active helps promote increased health and wellness while also helping to build a child’s self-confidence and social interactions.
Although neither of them was born in Wichita, The couple firmly believes in the power mentorship, education, and sports have and how they can change student’s lives in ICT. Teon Wilson, a former collegiate football star, has been involved with youth sports mentorship for years and uses a combination of his player and mentor experience to help the mentees.
"I was working for FedEx before this, and I pulled out from the building, and I called Kimberly, and I'm like this ain't for me like God wants me to do something differently," said Teon. "I was like, I want to work with kids and give back. So, for Father's Day, Kimberly gave me Prime Fit LLC, and from there we started to lay out our vision."
Dr. Kimberly Wilson is a Professor in the Intervention Services and Leadership in Education at Wichita State University and has an extensive background in teaching and research that spans nearly 20 years. She has served on several advisory boards within the community and Primefit’s volunteer tutors are often past students of hers.
In the near future, Dr.Wilson plans to share a new learning program with Wichita school districts called Pineapple Pi, a combination of tools, programs, and services intended to be integrated, inclusive, and adaptive to the needs of every student. She believes there needs to be a shift from the one size fits all system in education to a more individual learning-based system because each student learns at a different pace and in a multitude of ways.