March 29, 2018

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Zach & Kim

1.      Zach’s Open Championship win in 2015 catapulted him into elite company. He is only the sixth person to ever win the Claret Jug at St. Andrews and wear the Green Jacket at the Masters. The other five include Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo. Not bad. 

2.      Zach and Kim met at their apartment complex outside Orlando in 2000 when she pretended to take out the garbage so she could meet him.

3.      Zach is obsessed with the Iowa Hawkeyes (specifically the football team). He has been known to wear a Hawkeye football helmet while watching film from their practices and knows an unhealthy number of stats about each player.

4.      The Johnsons named their dog Hogan after Ben Hogan, who is generally considered to be one of the best golfers in the history of the game.

5.      Zach absolutely hates rollercoasters. Kim loves them.

6.      Zach and his family love the outdoors. They spend a week skiing in Colorado every winter and spend summers in the mountains of North Carolina.

7.      In fact, Zach loves Colorado so much that if he weren’t a professional golfer, he’d like to be a ski bum in the mountains somewhere.

8.      Zach’s favorite event on the PGA TOUR is the Ryder Cup.

9.      If Zach could meet anybody, it would be Chip Gaines. We’re not kidding.

10.  The three best decisions Zach has ever made include: 1) marrying Kim; 2) having his three children; and 3) moving to St. Simons Island, Georgia, which he says has a small-town Iowa feel.

March 2, 2018

The More That You Read, The More Things You Will Know!

“Those are the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.”

-JRR Tolkien

In a frantic scramble to get things ready for a recent family night I found myself coming to a stop while setting up a book table. Emptying box after box of new books for our kids to take home at the end of the night I was swept up in a wave of nostalgia seeing old favorites that had seemingly transcended the generations. Surely, I thought to myself, kids today can’t still be reading Matt Christopher books!

This line of thinking set me on the path of remembering my favorite books from elementary school.

I wondered, then, what is on the favorites list of current fifth graders? Could there be any crossover from my own list from that age? I polled a random assortment of current Kids on Course fifth graders and compiled a list of overall favorite books (I combined all Diary of a Wimpy Kid votes into the same slot even if the votes were for different books in the series. Jeff Kinney gets enough publicity.)

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney

2. Gregor the Overlander – Suzanne Collins

3. Totally Lame Vampire – Tim Collins

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – JK Rowling

5. Dork Diaries – Rachel Renee Russell

6. I Survived series – Lauren Tarshis

7. Wings of Fire – Tui T Sutherland

8. Wonder – RJ Palacio

9. Maze Runner – James Dashner

10. Smile – Raine Telgemeier

For anyone interested, my list is (in no particular order) Harry Potter (whole series), Hatchet, The Hobbit, A Light in the Attic, Magic Tree House (whole series), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, any number of Goosebumps books, Matt Christopher’s books (but only the ones about soccer), Johnny Tremain, and Scary Stories to tell in the Dark.

-Jerry Logan, Van Buren Site Coordinator

February 14, 2018

We LOVE our 8th Graders!

By the time Kids on Course students reach high school they will have had more than 250 hours of tutoring, experienced more than 15 different sports, art classes, or other enrichment classes, visited at least four college campuses, and a personal mentor to ensure they know each day that someone cares, someone is holding them accountable, and someone is guiding them to the best possible future.

As the Program Leader of Kids on Course I don’t get to spend much time with students, but I devote hours to looking at their data and supporting the staff that walks alongside children within their schools. And when I look at our inaugural group of Kids on Course students, our current eighth graders, my heart swells with joy. When we met them in second grade, they were so little and many of them were shy and struggling with their learning. We’ve seen them transform into much taller (!) and more confident in their educational and personal paths. Some are excelling on the basketball court, in Algebra, on the soccer field or on the stage. What a gift to be a witness as they soon embark on the next chapter: high school.

In order to prepare for this transition, we’ve been meeting with high school principals, colleges, career planning experts, trade and apprentice groups, and military recruiters. We want to know the entire post-secondary landscape so we can be experts in getting these young people on a path that best fits with their interests and strengths. Right now these eighth graders are planning their schedules for high school and Jaimen Pangborn and David Savino have been guiding their course selection and ensuring students are filling their school days with opportunities that will challenge and motivate them. So if a student sneaks in a study hall, rather than an elective like Teen Issues or Creative Writing, you better believe we’ll catch it.

The Zach Johnson Foundation started Kids on Course to meet a community need and fulfill Zach and Kim’s dream of supporting children in his hometown who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Our results show that students who’ve been in Kids on Course for two or more years are less likely to get in trouble at school, are more likely to be on grade level in reading, and are more hopeful about their futures. But the real test of the success of our program will come when these eighth graders are enrolled in college, a trade, or military service after high school. Then we will know we’ve reached our goal of getting all Kids on Course students on a path to further learning after high school, which also means they graduated high school on time. We know that 86% of our students are first generation college students, as defined by the Department of Education (not having any parents with a four-year degree.) This data point is important because it shows our program is reaching students who have the most to gain from post-secondary education and are the most at risk, according to nationwide and local statistics, of not having success after high school.

We love these students, and these families. We cannot wait to see what they grow into over the next four a half years. We’ve already started working with iCAN and community partners to assess their interests and strengths to help guide them in future careers. While 14 year olds can change their minds on a day-to-day basis, we know it’s valuable to get them thinking about what kind of schooling they want to pursue after high school, and how that impacts their dream job prospects. We’ll also be diving into the costs of college, and how a high GPA, well-rounded extra-curricular resume, and pursuing scholarships can reduce the burden of debt. And each student in Kids on Course will receive a scholarship if they stick with the program through 12th grade to pursue the degree, certificate or training necessary to live independently and proudly in a life of their choosing. We are so thankful for this opportunity to share in the success of these young people, and love every minute of being in their lives!

– Beth Malicki, Kids on Course Program Leader

February 9, 2018

Girls on the Run

As our second semester begins it also means the start for a new season of Girls on the Run.  Last year I was lucky enough to be a part of Girls on the Run at Harrison Elementary and this year we are bringing the program to Grant Elementary for the first time!

Girls on the Run is offered for third-fifth grade students.  The 10-week program promotes girls creating a sense of self identity, making new friends, and promoting a positive self-image.  As the students get older and work their way closer to transitioning to middle school, building confidence in who they are is very crucial.  Girls on the Run offers a safe, friendly environment for them to do just that.  Every practice is broken down into two parts.  We always begin a practice together with a lesson.  “The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.”   After the lessons we begin the running portion.  The girls train for a 5K that takes place at the end of the season.  The 5K is a time for every Girls on the Run team from every school in the surrounding area to come together and celebrate the season.  Throughout their practices they set running goals and work towards accomplishing the 3.1 miles 5K run.  The goal of Girls on the Run is that they just move forward in any way that they can.

I am so excited to get Girls on the Run started here at Grant.  I think that this is an awesome opportunity for the girls in this school to grow both mentally and physically into strong, confident individuals.

-Cristal Boeding, Grant Site Coordinator