LOBO Prep’s Impact
A polished résumé, well-written essay and personalized recommendation letter help on a college application. But no matter the shine, the interest or individuality, one can’t hide numbers. When applying for college, two numbers matter: the SAT/ACT score and one of the largest predictors of that score, one’s family income. In 2014, a 398-point gap existed between students from the highest earning families and students from the lowest earning families.
According to its website, 75.5 percent of students in the Houston ISD are economically disadvantaged. Lobo Prep exists to separate that percentage from students’ test scores, specifically at César E. Chávez High School.
At the school, after the 3:30 p.m. bell rings, students file into a small lecture-hall-style classroom, grab their pizza and then chat with one another. Bonner mentors drop in and ask about their weeks.
I talked with one girl about movies. Sometime in the near future, she’s going to watch Patch Adams with Robin Williams. I’ve convinced her. One mentee also told me about his goal to attend Juliard for piano. We talked about classical music for at least 10 minutes and reached a consensus that Claude Debussy is awesome. Everyone gets comfortable. But right at four o’clock, we sort into our tutoring groups.
“The groups sit down, open their manuals, and get to work,” program co-founder Khalid Sheik said. “Then magic happens.”
The mentors’ rewards are those ‘aha!’ moments. I had to explain once how the word “than” functioned to my students. I think I understood the concept better than them. Or, better than they, I should say. As I explained it, I couldn’t tell if I was getting through, if deep down connections were forming. But then, this week a student popped out, “Oh! A subject pronoun comes after ‘than,’ not a object pronoun, right?” I cried a little—on the inside. On the outside, I just smirked and nodded my head several times while saying, “Yes. Yes.”
For a brief period, the tutoring has come to end. Lobo wrapped up its second session this week. The Oct. 2 test will pass, and we will wait for the results to come back with as much anxiety as our mentees. The program’s founders, Khalid, James Russ and Tue Vo, will analyze the results and then plan to lengthen the study sessions and focus on the troublesome essay.
The idea is to improve every session for the students will improve, too. At Lobo, we may do the dirty work in trying to get students ready for a test, one piece of a larger application process. Yet, only after they tackle that monster can they worry about résumés, essays and recommendation letters. That’s the icing on the cake.
Written by: Mason Malone