Baker College Prep hosts Professional Development panel

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BAKER COLLEGE PREP PRIDE “Bigs,” “Littles” and staff pose with the panelists. 

Baker College Prep, the South Chicago campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, hosted its first “PRIDE “Bigs” Professional Development” panel recently. This panel featured a number of Chicago area professionals who shared personal and professional experiences with the students. The PRIDE program was created in 2017 at Baker College Prep in order to increase freshman retention through lowering the average detention count and increasing the average GPA. PRIDE utilizes the talent and leadership of top performing upperclassmen, recruiting them as mentors, “Bigs,” and providing them with extensive training. The “Bigs” then work with one to two freshmen “Littles” for most of the year (October-April), through a weekly program consisting of goal setting, academic support, team building, and character development. The PRIDE “Bigs” Professional Development panel was created as a way to develop leadership skills for the student mentors, “Bigs.” This panel allowed students to hear the stories of professionals who look like them and discuss how they were able to overcome trials and tribulations in their lives on their journey to achieve their success. The panel focused on topics that included college selection, how they transitioned from high school to college, and the importance of mentorship.

PANELISTS POSE WITH their Baker College Prep swag. Pictured from (l-r), Lee Edwards, Maurice Green, Elle Davis, Jeffery Beckham, and Dirrick Butler.

“The students were able to learn how they can use the experience of others to contribute to their own experience and learn from others as a way to gather thoughts and opinions,” said Jasmine Gilstrap, PRIDE Program Manager and a teacher at Baker College Prep. “I also think it’s a great opportunity for them to see that there are a lot of great things that they have access to here at Baker and Noble that can contribute to their future success. This program allows students to see the importance of using the available mentorships, people, and resources to help them build the careers that they want and to thrive in life,” added Gilstrap. “Mentorship is critical. I was glad to take part in the program today to be one of the quick-touch and light point mentors that are here to bring some impact,” said Jeffrey Beckham, a panelist and the Vice President of Career and Leadership Development at Chicago Scholars. The panelists in attendance included: Jeffery Beckham, Vice President of Career and Leadership Development, Chicago Scholars; Elle Davis, Adjunct Faculty, City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College; Maurice Green, Director of Community Engagement, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; Lee Edwards, The Real Chi Program Coordinator, Free Spirit Media; Dirrick Butler, Senior Manager of Scholar Experience, Chicago Scholars.

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