Mike Meechin, Principal at Poinciana High School — The Path to Higher Ed — Episode 7

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.

Mike Meechin, high school principal, educational consultant, speaker and writer tells us how he approaches college readiness in his high poverty and 1st generation college-going high school.

About the School

Poinciana High School serves 9–12th grade in central Florida area with diverse student body of 1,800 students. Many of their parents did not go to college.

How They Handle College Readiness

They attack college readiness in 2 phases.

  1. Equipping them with the tools they need to prepare and apply
  2. Making sure they have the rigorous coursework they need to prepare them for succeeding in college

Full-time college counselor is dedicated to helping students through the process. They start in 9th grade for college awareness, making sure to educate both students and parents.

They know their students and use data to drive decision-making processes for creating the best college readiness program for their program.

The #1 Reason Students Successfully Move to Higher Education

Community of support all the way through high school and beyond. Investing in students so they feel empowered to chase their own success. Giving them all the resources they need to go wherever they want. The most successful students are the ones who put forth effort on their own and meet the teachers 50% of the way.

How to Help the Unmotivated Students

Most of the time, the unmotivated students are the ones who need the most building up. The ones who need extra investment and help to believe in themselves. If students are not putting forth the effort to succeed, help them believe in themselves.

Every Student Succeeds Act is Not What Drives the Greatest Educators

These data points the government asks us to report are not the ones that get the best educators out of bed in the morning. They are important! But if we’re taking care of our students and giving them what they really need, those numbers will likely move up on their own.

What Poinciana is Trying Next

Partnering with National School Clearinghouse to see whether or not their former students are completing college. Students are leaving Poinciana and getting into college, but are they finishing? If they’re not finishing college, is this because of a weakness in the college readiness program? This year, that data will be tracked and used to hone the program.

#1 Piece of Advice to Craft an Excellent College Readiness Program

There’s two pieces of advice that work together synergistically:

  1. Know your students and what’s right for them
  2. Have the right team

Every school is different. You have to know your students and their needs before figuring out what program works for them.

The right team is what carries the program through everything. Finding a passionate people who fight for what’s right for the students is difficult, but necessary for an excellent program.

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