Mayor William Miranda Marin


Initiatives by the Municipality of Caguas, Puerto Rico, started by its Mayor Hon. William Miranda MarŪn, which among other objectives, promote prevention of school violence and help to improve studentís safety during and after school hours. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico public education is provided, free of charge, by a centralized system under the State Department of Education. The initiatives described below are exemplary in nature, for they represent a pro-active effort by the local administration, on behalf of our cityís children and youth, to address deficiencies by the central system. These programs motivate students to achieve behavior modification, improve self-esteem, and, exhibit positive attitudes. They also help to prevent school desertion and assist out of school youth to complete their High School diploma and receive vocational skills training enabling them to enter the labor market and become productive.

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

This project is conducted in two different schools per semester and benefits approximately 240 students with deficiencies in basic academic skills. The students receive individual assistance by tutors in all academic subjects. It is primarily a prevention program for it is known that school desertion starts mostly with at risk students since elementary and middle school. It is for this reason that the program is focused to economically disadvantaged students in fourth through ninth grade with ages nine to fourteen. In addition the program promotes adequate use of free time, positive attitude towards learning, behavior modification and skills development. A team of twelve teachers in Spanish, English and Mathematics, direct and conduct the program. They also have as additional resources a group of talented high school and college students that help as tutors. All this academic tutoring is complemented with cultural, athletic and recreational skills development activities such as: tennis, volleyball, swimming, drawing, dancing and drama. Academic activities are held on Mondays through Thursdays while Arts and Sports activities are scheduled on Fridays. Students select participation on arts and sports based on their own interests and skills. The goal is to reach four hundred (400) students per school year in several schools. Transportation and snacks are provided free of charge, as well as all materials needed for every activity.

2. When was the program created and why?

The program was created in 1997 and started operations on 22 September, 1997. It was based on the special interest of the Mayor of Caguas to lower the school desertion levels in the city and to promote better behavior and patterns of conduct among students from culturally and economically deprived areas.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

Evaluation criteria is administered through parents, teachers, other school staff and participating students to measure programís effectiveness. In addition monitoring of academic performance and behavior modification patterns is performed to ascertain results.

4. How is the program financed?

The programs is totally financed with funds from the Municipality of Caguas with no additional state nor federal funds received.

5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?

Community involvement is attained through the participation of parents in some of the activities and the tutors that come from different sectors of the City.

6. What lessons have been learned that could help other communities to establish similar programs?

This program has proven effective in improving academic achievement and behavior modification patterns due to the motivation students have with the fine arts and sports curricula. Through activities such as painting, music, dancing and the various sports helps the stabilization of the emotional being is achieved and the stress of everyday living is lowered to levels that help reduce school violence outbursts. Thus the importance of the integration of fine arts and sports activities to the program.

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