Giving Compass' Take:

• The Aspen Institute profiles a school in Cleveland where mentorship between faculty and students is a high priority; the impact relies on a network of relationships.

• What education programs are similar to this model? How can we make sure that districts build support systems for students in every school — and that there is buy-in from administrators across the board?

• Here's more on why mentorships are so important for students to thrive.

Maddie DeLong built a number of special relationships with students during her service year as a City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member at East Technical High School (ETHS). Yet one young man she worked with stands out in her memory.

“When he started the school year, he didn’t get along with many of his classmates, and he wasn’t that well-known at school because he came from the other side of town,” recalls DeLong, now entering her fourth year as ETHS’s data coordinator. “He didn’t feel like he fit in, so he’d skip class and hide out in the gym to play basketball. He had a lot of attendance issues.”

This student was a remarkable basketball player, but he didn’t display that kind of confidence in the classroom. DeLong developed a strong relationship with him over the course of the first semester, pushing the student to focus on his schoolwork in addition to his time on the basketball team.

“I told him he couldn’t play basketball if he didn’t do well in school,” says DeLong. “During our work in small groups, I saw that he was much further along academically than he let on. He started doing better during our one-on-one sessions designed to accelerate his academic and social-emotional development, and he was able to translate that success into better performance in class.” ...

At East Technical High School, that support comes from a network of adults in the building who build deep relationships with every student. The school’s overall strategy for improvement is built on the idea that each student needs an adult — whether it’s a teacher, administrator, coach, or other adult support — who can serve as his or her advocate.

Read the full article about investing in relationships at one Cleveland high school at The Aspen Institute.