Fostering student growth and achievement with a unique curriculum of college readiness classes, Escalera: Steps for Success provides rising high school juniors and seniors with the skills they need to pursue higher education. Partnering with the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) and Sociedad Latina, this SLP site has had a rewarding second year thanks to great staff and dedicated students.
“Our students are self-motivated, passionate learners and have the privilege to be led by quality educators,” Daniel Davis, College Access and Career Coordinator at Sociedad Latina, said.
Escalera aims to provide students, many of them newcomers to the United States and English language learners, with the tools they need to make college more accessible. According to Davis, the four main goals are to inspire students to think critically about their personal strengths and challenges, determine their best fit among different types of colleges, learn how to pay for college, and produce a personal statement. Escalera inspires students to express themselves creatively as well, and by the end of the summer, students will have produced a visual arts piece that represents their learning that they will present at the graduation ceremony.
On an average day, students arrive at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, which hosts the morning classes, around 8:45 AM. Here, students enjoy working together to prepare each other for the college application process, even showcasing their professional communication skills in mock college admissions interviews.
“They report to their classrooms, where they take part in collaborative learning about college readiness,” Davis said. “For example, they have interviewed each other to learn about their strengths and challenges, researched different types of higher education and potential careers, and are currently writing personal statements in advance of applying to college.”
Aside from the classroom component of Escalera, students visit institutions like Boston College and Bridgewater State University, which allows them to visualize their future as a college student. Additionally, students disperse to work placements in the afternoons to gain valuable hands-on professional experience. These community-based worksites include Cooper Community Center, Salvation Army – South End, and Women’s Lunch Place.
“Our students are newcomers to the US, and have aspirations and high expectations for their new lives here. However, as recent arrivals they often struggle with a language barrier and lack of access to the information they need to move forward,” Davis said. “The Escalera program presents the fundamentals of college readiness in a digestible way, allows them to develop their English proficiency, and gives students the tools they need to prepare themselves for a prosperous future, higher education being the first major step they must take.”