What exactly is the College For Every Student (CFES) program in Ticonderoga? We recently learned about this program from Ti CFES Program Director Steve Boyce, and he graciously agreed to provide us with more information about the program’s mission and goals for local students. As a result, we also learned much about someone whose commitment to the success of local student is only exceeded by his action to make it happen. (Be sure to see our Who’s Who in Ticonderoga piece on Steve Boyce!)
A. College For Every Student ( CFES) is a nonprofit organization deeply concerned about the inequality of educational opportunity between students from low-income families and their higher income peers. CFES gives low-income students (known as Scholars) the support they need to further their education and thrive in careers they care about.
CFES works with more than 20,000 students in 30 states and Ireland and helps schools establish the three CFES Core Practices:
- Leadership Through Service
- Pathways to College and Careers
95% of CFES Scholars are from low-income households and 90% are the first generation of their family to attend college.
CFES gets results. Our Scholars consistently show improvement in attendance, grades and behavior. 99% of our Scholars graduate from high school and 95% go on to college, technical school, or the military.
Q. What is your role as a Program Director?
A. I guess I wear three hats. Here in the Adirondacks, I work with CFES teams in three schools (Ticonderoga K-12, Peru MS-HS, and Plattsburgh ) to strengthen the Core practices by training mentors, working with Scholars to develop their leadership skills, and doing activities that strengthen Scholars’ knowledge of educational and career opportunities after high school. CFES does not believe that every student should attend a traditional four year college. We want students to find what they are passionate about and to know what they need to succeed in that field. My activities are different in each school, but I find myself often helping Scholars develop what CFES calls the Essential Skills, things like perseverance, teamwork, leadership and “grit”; skills that are really necessary for success in life.
I also work with nine schools in Eastern Kentucky as part of CFES’ partnership with Beria College. In that capacity, I periodically visit to assess how well the schools have implemented the Core Practices and make recommendations improvement. I am struck by the similarities between the Adirondacks and that part of Kentucky. Both are areas of great natural beauty with great people who are fighting high levels of poverty by raising the aspirations of their children.
My last CFES “hat” is coordinating the School of Distinction program. All 200+ of our member schools may apply for this recognition program. Those schools that have the Core Practices solidly in place, are making CFES activities available to all students, and are developing model activities for other schools are designated Schools of Distinction and, along with receiving a banner and a plaque, are recognized at the CFES national conference. My job is to head up the review team that looks at all applicants and decides which schools are Schools of Distinction. About only 50% of the schools that apply earn the designation, and I’m proud to say that Ticonderoga has been a School of Distinction seven years in a row.
Q. What are some other things Ticonderoga has been doing with CFES?
A. Ticonderoga has a very active CFES program. In November, Scholars from the Fort Ti Fife and Drum Corps played for the opening ceremony at the CFES National Conference and Ti Scholar Riley Quigley was given the opportunity to introduce Shaq O’Neal’s mother, one of the conference speakers. Recently, high school Scholars and other students visited Potsdam and Canton colleges, two nearby schools that offer very different programs. In January, the middle school will begin a mentoring program involving members from the community. Later in the year, the school district will hold its Give Back Day, where students will help a number of community organizations with service projects. The CFES team is also exploring how CFES resources and practices can help the district achieve its Strategic Planning Goal to make Ticonderoga a national model for rural schools.
Q. Why did you get involved in CFES?
A. That’s easy. CFES allows me to continue in education in a meaningful way even though I’m retired. It is very satisfying to see kids go on to successful careers and know you’ve played a part in that success. CFES has brought me in contact with some great people who, whether it’s my fellow Program Directors, CFES staff, teachers, administrators, or college faculty, are positive about all students and their potential for success. Finally, Ticonderoga has provided me and my family a wonderful life. CFES is a way I can repay a debt to a wonderful community.
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