Kirsten Larson: recent publications

This High School is Doing Whatever it Takes to Mentor First-Generation Students

, the goddess Athena, disguised as old man Mentor, reveals to the hero’s son the right path to take. Skip forward several millennia and across the Atlantic to an urban high school preparing teens for life after graduation, and the image of mentor-as-lone-sage doesn’t quite paint the picture.

If one New York school—and the resources it brings to bear—is any indication, success takes a village of mentors, both formal and informal.Marble Hill School for International Studies, in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, has a 96% nonwhite and overwhelmingly first-generation-immigrant student body of about 450, speaking more than 35 languages. Despite any obstacles students face, since its creation in 2002, the school has enjoyed impressive outcomes, boasting a college readiness score 27% higher than the city’s in 2019.A range of foundations and community-based organizations help meet the school’s ambitious goal of ensuring both high school graduation and college matriculation.

Marble Hill partners identify and nurture high academic achievers as candidates for highly selective colleges. Scores of Marble Hill students head upstate each summer to Cornell University for pre-college coursework and also to Syracuse, New York University, Tufts, Skidmore and Marist.

Many earn full college scholarships through the highly selective Posse Foundation and similar organizations.But as longtime principal Kirsten Larson points out, the school is charged with serving all students well. “If they’re top-performing before they get into those programs, they’ve got the skills and habits and support at home to do well,” Larson says.

“It’s the others who need help.”All Marble Hill students get access to two key supports, (CBI) and . A CBI college

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Kirsten Larson