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The Milagro Center Helps
Delray Beach Students Learn and Grow

photo
Edvonia and mentor Mari Colacino

Edvonia is a fifth grade student at Cross Point Elementary School in Delray Beach. She is one of six siblings of Haitian immigrants. Edvonia was a student who made C's and D's in her classes, and she had attendance and behavioral problems. She also lacked self-esteem and needed help with reading. In 2001, a Cross Point guidance counselor introduced Edvonia to a mentoring program called The Milagro Center.

The Milagro Center serves low-income and at-risk students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Delray Beach. The program has three components: academic enrichment; youth leadership; and cultural arts education. Students like Edvonia get one and a half hours of homework assistance, remedial tutoring, and small group mentoring every day.

The Milagro Center Director, Lhisa Almashy, says that since Edvonia has been assigned a personal mentor (Ms. Mari Colacino), she now takes responsibility for her actions. Edvonia has now gained self-esteem and no longer has the same behavior problems at school. The Milagro Center works directly with the school centers and teachers of the students. If a student misbehaves at school, then they are also disciplined at The Milagro Center, by not being allowed to participate in the fun activities.

Ms. Almashy says the important thing the counselors want students to know is that someone cares about them. Last year, the mentoring program had 36 students. After the first quarter report card, 22 of those students were not on track for promotion. The volunteers at The Milagro Center began working with the students and by the end of the school year, 18 of the 22 students ended up on track for promotion.

"Edvonia is a perfect example of what can be achieved when you focus on a student's potential and not on their external challenges," said Ms. Almashy. "This is Edvonia's last year at The Milagro Center as a student, however she plans to come back as a 'Counselor in Training' to help mentor other kids."

Within the past two years, Edvonia has gone from a C-D student to an A-B Honor Roll student at Cross Point Elementary.

For more information on The Milagro Center, visit www.MilagroCenter.org.