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Academics in Motion brings mentoring back to school

Student athletes and their coaches often enjoy many opportunities for mentoring due to the common interest they share in whatever athletic programs their schools offer.

However, in more recent years, due to factors including the often large size of athletic programs, as well as the increased responsibilities of coaches to their programs and academic duties, the process of looking up to coaches as role models often needs to be done from afar for many students.

Students, who need positive figures in their lives now more than ever, with increased single-parent households and two parents working, may be able to have their needs met by academic advisors working with coaches in a new program being tried at the JFK and Columbus high school campuses called Academics in Motion.

“This is a program where we have Youth Development coaches work with athletic coaches and students by using the student’s interest in athletics as a vehicle to work with them on academics,” said Jim Presbrey, chief operating officer of Academics in Motion.

Presbrey currently has two Youth Development coaches at each of the schools working at least 25 hours a week with the coaches, acting as an intermediary to work out any issues that may arise with the student in their academic or personal lives.

“Coaches now have so much on their plate that they don’t get the time to mentor students, and that is where our Youth Development coaches come in,” Presbrey said. “Kids are thirsty for mentoring.”

Presbrey said that even though coaches in New York State need to be teachers, they don’t necessarily have to be working full-time in the same school that they coach in. This often leaves the coach with less knowledge about his students off the athletic field than they would otherwise have if they taught the young people in the classroom.

In addition, coaches who are in the school building during the day often cannot spend enough time with each individual student to see what academic areas they may need extra help in or if they have personal or family issues that need to be addressed.

Since guidance counselors often are dealing with large caseloads of kids as well, Presbrey believes that the Academics in Motion Youth Development coaches can fill gaps that exist in otherwise healthy athletic and academic programs.

“Youth Development coaches know when students have upcoming tests, and what areas they are struggling in,” Presbrey stated. “They help the student by creating a goal and giving them regular feedback on how to achieve that goal.”

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