Emilio Cataño, 16, was referred to Carson High School’s mandatory study hall as a freshman last year because he was receiving failing grades in most of his classes.
He continues to attend this year by choice.
“Instead of going home and having all sorts of distractions, I can come here and get help with the stuff I need help with,” Cataño said. “There’s more concentration.”
And the key, he said, is teacher Lori Ann Shine.
“Other teachers will explain something then go back to their desk,” he said. “She’ll come to you.”
For her work with the after-school tutoring program, Shine, a Carson High School English teacher, was recognized as Barrick Gold’s Teacher of the Month for January, a statewide recognition.
“I’m definitely very honored,” she said. “I’m excited. I love my job.”
Shine has worked in MASH — Mandatory After-School Study Hall — since it started five years ago. She said it was a natural decision for her, the daughter of a school teacher who often opened their home to at-risk students.
“I love this group,” she said. “I’ve always had a knack for oppositional, defiant kids. I really care about them, and they know that I do.”
Freshmen earning failing grades in two or more classes or who come into the high school with failing grades from middle school are required to enroll in the program. Students also are referred to the program by parents, teachers and counselors.
“If you fail your freshman year, you only have a 20 percent chance of graduating,” said Coordinator Bridget Gordon. “It’s really critical as freshmen that they get engaged and build academic skills.”
She said 110 students are enrolled in the program, with 17 teachers serving. At the beginning of the year, she said, students in the program were earning 225 “F”s. Now, that number is 120.
Shine said the secret to her success with the students is her relationship with them.
“I get really involved with their lives,” she said. “I just get really up front with them. If they’re not here, I track them down. I end up seeing such a change in them.”
Funding for the program ran out at the end of last year, putting its future in jeopardy. Through a 21st Century Grant, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada took over coordinating it.
Brian Sandoval, 15, is happy that it survived.
“I was literally down to ‘F’s,” he said. “Right now, I have ‘A’s. I want to get my diploma so I can have more job opportunities and go to college. I’m being a great success.”
He, too, credits Shine with his turnaround.
“She’s so funny,” he said. “I love her. She’s a really big mentor for me.”