In her years as an AP teacher, Bartley became frustrated with a common reality of AP courses across the country: too few students from minority or poor families in college prep courses. She decided to take matters into her own hands and created Franklin's Advanced Placement Scholar Program
The Advanced Placement Scholar Program has dramatically increased the number of students of color, socio-economically disadvantaged students, and students who will be the first in their families to go to college. Minority students now represent 40 percent of the students in this AP program.
The Advanced Placement Scholar Program requires students going into the program to take at least four AP classes before they graduate. Teachers throughout the school encourage students who show promise, especially minority and low-income students, English as a second language students, and special education students, to join. Thanks to Susan Bartley's efforts, eight Reed College students are available to tutor Franklin High School students who need help. The tutoring occurs after school, four days a week, and math teachers tutor students in the morning and at lunch. In addition, freshman English teachers have been trained in pre-AP strategies to prepare students.
Susan Bartley has collaborated with Writers in the Schools to create the College Essay Mentoring Project, which pairs students with professionals to support students who need help with their college admission essays. What’s more, Bartley has created targeted academic intervention luncheons for Black and Latino students to review their transcripts and hear from college counselors and college admissions specialists while eating pizza. All of the students who completed the Advanced Placement Scholar Program have gone on to college in recent years, and the number of minority and low-income students who now go from Franklin High School to college has risen significantly.
Bartley's colleagues at Franklin see her as a culturally competent master teacher who is able to connect with and inspire students from very different ethnic and cultural backgrounds than hers. Franklin principal, Shay James, concurs: "I have had a front row seat as a parent of an African-American child in Susan Bartley's AP English class. I am grateful to her for the critical thinking skills she has helped develop with my child, the confidence she has fostered, and the expectation to push a little more that she instilled."
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