Attorney and businessman Randy Bowman has a lot to feel proud about as he reviews the grades of students attending At Last!
The innovative educational support program for at-risk elementary school children in Dallas just completed its first term, and the results demonstrate that its model achieves significant academic gains for kids with the most serious educational deficits and lifts performance across all levels of ability.
The AT LAST! boarding residence opened its doors to students in March and completed its first semester on June 17.
Despite being in operation for only 14 weeks the “boarding experience” model achieved results from the first cohort that show major gains across the board, with the students seeing an overall improvement of almost 10 percent in their grade averages in their core classes. The results were even more impressive for students with the most ground to make up:
Those coming into the program with the lowest grades notched an eye-popping 21-percent improvement.
AT LAST! achieved these gains despite COVID-related constraints limiting it from implementing its full program which provides crucial educational resources that are standard fare for the home life of students from more affluent families but often absent for under-resourced students.
AT LAST! is not a school. Students participating in AT LAST! are called its Scholars-In-Residence. They attend the schools chosen by their parents for daytime instruction but stay at AT LAST!’s resource-rich residence on school nights. There they receive tutoring, homework assistance, balanced meals, enrichment activities, and around-the-clock adult supervision in a spacious, secure residence designed specifically to enhance learning.
The Scholars-In-Residence spend weekends, holidays, and summers at home with their families, who remain the primary relationship for their kids throughout the year.
On the advice of experts like Parkland epidemiologist Dr. Carol Estelle and its CEO Dr. Fred Cerise, the program limited its initial participation to half its first-phase capacity – and also curtailed some of its planned educational enrichment components.
AT LAST! founder and CEO Bowman, a prominent local businessman and civic leader, hailed the results as proof that the lives and fortunes of at-risk youth can be improved by the innovative model.
“Large deficits among elementary school-aged urban students are nothing new, sadly, and most educators say their most difficult post-pandemic challenge will be reducing the accelerated deficits in kids who were farthest behind before the pandemic,” said the native of Dallas’ Pleasant Grove community. “AT LAST!’s results indicate that we can help those kids, and we want to meet more of them.”
The passion he feels is clearly evident she talks about the future of At Last!
“We serve a community of good parents and grandparents that value education, believe in their children’s ability to learn, and are willing to sacrifice to enable them to succeed,” said Mr. Bowman. “They need additional resources to help them live their values, and that is where AT LAST! comes in.”
He also emphasized AT LAST!’s determination to address the broader needs of the child to facilitate academic growth.
“We put in a massive amount of planning, research, development, and support-building for a few years and resolved that it would be a mistake to ignore the role a child’s complete wellness plays in learning,” said Mr. Bowman. “We partnered with The Essilor Foundation to ensure that every child had vision testing and eyeglasses, and we are excited to add preventative dental care in the fall. Ultimately, I am delighted for our scholars, their parents, our staff, and our incredible community supporters that all the effort is paying off in such a huge way.”
Mr. Bowman emphasized that AT LAST!’s leadership is not resting on its laurels. They are already hard at work reviewing and refining its components. They will expand to 16 Scholars-In-Residence in the fall, with available spots awarded by a lottery process.
Interested families should go to www.atlastboarding.com to learn more and apply.