The Public School Success Team (PSST!) in Healdsburg was founded to increase the graduation rate from it local High School. Created by area activists Tania Amochaev, Jane Rosenberg, Barbara Epstein and Lynne Brett with the goal of leveraging the knowledge, energy, and philanthropy of the Healdsburg community to reach this goal, PSST! is demonstrating early success.
According to Tania Amochaev, educators have defined 5th grade as the “sweet spot” of a child’s education—the time when they are “young enough to be open to outside support, but old enough to be thinking about graduation and beyond.” Typically, economically disadvantaged students and those who are English learners struggle more than others to achieve academic success. Raising the level of educational attainment is a significant challenge throughout Sonoma County. enter PSST!, a group who launched a long-term tutoring and support program for all interested 5th graders to give students the support they need to master the curriculum through high school.
A Fund created at Community Foundation Sonoma County set up tuition grants for the 30 fifth graders adopted by PSST! in 2009. These tuition grants will be available to students when they graduate from Healdsburg High School in 2017 and will amount to $2,000 per student. Support from Syar Corporation, the Kiwanis Club of Healdsburg, the Rotary Club of Healdsburg and State Farm insurance, as well as individual community members, have helped seed the Public School Success Team Fund. Other community partners include the Healdsburg Unified School District, the Boys and Girls Club of the north Bay, Sonoma State University, eandM and General Dynamics. Already, parents report that their students are doing better, attendance at tutoring is high and school attendance has increased.