Snapshot: Saturday Morning Social Justice

Posted on: September 9th, 2015

Snapshot: Saturday Morning Social Justice


Picture this: 54 LUC students on a frigid Saturday morning, at 7:55am, loading instructional resources, textbooks and themselves into Loyola vans for trips to different south-side CPS high schools. These 54 students are Academic Coaches for Target New Transitions (TNT), a 23-week drop-out prevention program focused on at-risk high school freshmen. This a very real snapshot of social justice in action.


Academic Coaching is a hybrid tutoring and mentoring combination that pairs high achieving college students with at-risk freshmen in underperforming urban high schools. This experience yields obvious educational benefits for the high school freshmen and life-changing lessons for the Academic Coaches. The close age relationship between the Coaches and the high school students often reveals the profound differences between and the striking similarities of both sets of students. This shared experience allows everyone involved to see themselves through the eyes of others. It also offers a clearer vision of the world around them as well as their responsibilities and opportunities in it.


College years are notably a time of self-discovery and exploration. Students pursue different fields of study as they seek to align their abilities and interests. Classrooms provide enriching environments where the exchange of ideas and knowledge allows learning to flow along specified content streams. In contrast, academic coaching leads learning out of the classroom and into the community where lessons are shaped by a myriad of interactive experiences.


Academic coaching motivates college students to move beyond their own comfort zones and challenges them on multiple levels. They are faced with the stark reality of obvious educational inequities and challenged by a hopeful desire to share their abundant talent with promising students whose cultural differences often complicate the education process. They are routinely devastated by the domestic circumstances of the underrepresented students and inspired by those students’ resilient determination. Coaches are buoyed by evidence of academic achievement in their students and frustrated by the pervasive pessimism that shrouds the climate of low performing urban high schools.


In their own words, We walk out of most sessions having learned more than we anticipated—whether we learned something new about ourselves, our students, or the world around us. Working with these kids has taken my compassion to another level, as I am no longer learning about issues of social justice from a distance (reading relevant articles, discussing issues in a classroom, etc.); I am experiencing this inequity first-hand, seeing for myself just how under-resourced many of these schools are.” Rachel Audisho, Finance major, Class of 2015

They (my students) have awoken a passion in me that I would have never known existed. I learned that social justice work is personal and profound on both the coach and student.”

James Naughton, History major, Class of 2015

Academic coaching calls college students to meaningful social action and allows them to practice productive citizenship. It gives them the opportunity to experience profound change and to see the need for even greater change in our world. Academic coaching offers hope for all of the lives it touches.

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