The Freshman Transition Network

Working together to transition freshmen & transform schools from the bottom up!

Please tell the other members of the network a little about yourself. Nothing is too short and nothing is too long. Just let us know who we are so we can turn this network into a true community.

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My name is Andy Hall and I am the 9th Grade Director (under construction for the fall) and History Director at The English High School in Boston, MA. We are currently in the planning phase for our 9th Grade Academy and I am very excited about this major shift in our schools culture to support our incoming students. To share some data, which is the foundation of our work...87% of our incoming 9th graders passed 1 or 0 classes in the 8th Grade which means that the remaining 13% percent has been marginally successful as they enter High School. Our goal is to re-engage students in their learning and to provide them the skills to be successful in High School and ultimately successful in a 4 year college. We have some big issues to work through but welcome the opportunity to help our students. -Andy
Thanks for joining, Andy. Sounds like your school has its work cut out for it. Thanks for already posting a forum discussion. Please keep us all up-to-date on your progress. I'm sure that other members of The Freshman Transition Network will be able to learn from it.
Hi Andy,

You do face some real challenges. It will be interesting to learn how you help your students to achieve their full potential.

My program I'm Awesome, But I Have My Limitations for high school students may be helpful to you. Take a look at the blog and the brochure and please let me know how I can be of help to you. (By the way, I'm located in Providence, RI... not too far from you.)

Best wishes.

I'm a Social Science teacher at a comprehensive high school near Sacramento, CA. I am currently teaching 10th grade World History, AP European History, AP US Government as well as regular US Government and Economics. Our school recently recieved a federal grant to start small learning communities at our site with a Freshman Transitions class as part of them.
Kurt - Thanks for joining and for introducing yourself. If you're looking for things to use in your Transitions class, I would suggest these links:
John Wooden's Corner
Inspiring and Motivating Students

It won't surprise me if you begin to find that you need a more comprehensive Freshman Transition Program. This is typical in schools that begin with a Transition class - it makes the need for a comprehensive approach more apparent. If so, I would like to suggest a few ways to gain some ideas. (and I realize they are self-serving to some degree):

1. The Ninth Grade Opportunity - it's our book on implementing a comprehensive team-based freshman transition program
2. Freshman Transition Conferences - click on the events tab for preliminary info on our upcoming 1-day conferences
3. Site visits - we (Solutions, etc.) regularly travel to schools/systems to work with them on their transition plans

Let me know if you have any questions - glad you're here!.
Scott and others,
I'm an inner-city public middle school teacher in Dallas with a dropout prevention hobby and blog at I began teaching technology 11 years ago after 28 years of social work in Dallas centered in child placement. Placing a child with their full history available to them was critical. I quickly learned that many of my students did not have their own history available to them due to poverty and multiple family moves. Plans for the future were a luxury. We began work to change that which led to the School Archive Project, a 10-year time-capsule and class reunion/mentoring project that started in 2005.

Due to this project, and many other improvements, graduation rates have almost doubled from a 34% average to over 60% with the class of 2010 at the high school receiving the majority of our students. The project has now spread to 7 other DISD schools.

The best news is that the 9th grade "bubble" that exists in most public school districts has disappeared in our target high school, and gone from a 33% enrollment increase from 8th to 9th grade to less than a 12% increase for the entire district. In the process the imbalance between male and female enrollment has almost been cut in half. See details at Needless to say this improvement is due to much more than the School Archive Project. Dallas ISD is making progress due to many improvements in multiple areas.
Thanks for the info, Bill. I hope members of the Network will take a moment to check out your website and blog.

Feel free to post blogs on here about your experiences and successes. Feel free to include a link back to your own site when you do so.
I had neglected to include a link directly to the data on the high school receiving the majority of our School Archive Project students since 2005. That report is at That report includes a link to the past 10 years of enrollment history at Sunset. The current enrollment numbers, updated weekly, are at Notice how the 9th grade bubble is virtually gone! Sunset had started a high school version of the Archive Project over a year ago, and the other middle school feeding into Sunset had also started their School Archive Project at the same time. Providing students a sense of their own history and future is priceless. The 500 pound vaults bolted to the floor in all three of our schools can certainly be called gimmicks, but very pricelss ones with a very critical message about the value of plans for the future.

Prior to 2005 Sunset had averaged loosing over 40% of their 9th grade enrollment in 10th grade. Now the percentage of 9th grade enrollment lost in the 10th grade enrollment is 1/4th that tragic 40+% number!
My school is currently forming a freshman academy for September, 2011.  We're in a new building and initiating a one to one laptop learning program as well.  Our staff is receiving professional development now and more over the summer.  I appreciate the opportunity to share ideas.

Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.  Be sure to share with the rest of us things your school is learning.


By the way, let me know if you need any professional development assistance.  Ray Moore and I work with schools on their Freshman Transition needs all the time.  You can check out more at


What kind of professional development are you all getting?

And what does the freshman academy include? school is considering a few different ideas.



I am interested in knowing how your freshman academy is going. We lost our high school this past May when an F-5 tornado passed through Joplin, MO. We are in temporary buildings right now with 9/10 together and 11/12 together. We are in the process of deciding what the design of our new school will be. We have not and will not be replacing textbooks. Our students all received a computer. (Macbook) I am interested in how things are going with your new initiative. Please email me at


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