People who communicate regularly by email sometimes end their messages with famous quotations. After the lengthy signatures, replete with street addresses, alma maters and fax digits, it’s not uncommon to see an inspirational snippet from the likes of Mohandas Gandhi or JFK or Jesus.
But that’s not how George Golden ends his emails. Golden’s a linkage coordinator at Glenville High School, and he doesn’t need a celebrity to translate what he believes: “The primary goal of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District is to become a premier school district in the United States.”
CMSD can rest assured that with employees like Golden, it is heading in the right direction. But what exactly is a linkage coordinator?
Golden describes his position this way: “I’m responsible for putting into place interventions that will improve the chances for our 9th grade male students to be successful as they’re transitioning from the K-8 environment to the secondary environment, thereby increasing their chances of going on to the 10th and 11th grades, and eventually graduating from high school.”
Golden is one of 13 CMSD employees working at various schools throughout the district in the same capacity. The linkage coordinators focus on males because of historically lower graduation rates. Also, males tend to have a harder time transitioning.
“A lot of it’s logistical,” says Golden. “The logistics and the organization are the biggest hurdles, adjusting to the independence you have in high school, moving from one class to the next judiciously. I try to help them understand that they only have four minutes to get to their next class, and they need to be prepared.”
It’s gratifying for Golden to see his students succeed. This year, in particular, is exciting for Golden because he gets to watch the young men he first knew as 9th graders apply for colleges and make decisions about their next steps after high school.
“We’ve been doing a lot of dialoguing,” Golden says. “One young man is trying to decide if he’d like to go to college or go to the Navy. Another young man is interested in a career in carpentry.”
One thing is certain. With Golden’s help, their opportunities – and more importantly, the actualization of those opportunities – are in sight.
The linkage coordinators have been active in the CMSD system for four years. Funding from the state of Ohio supported the program initially, but when funding ran out, CMSD elected to keep the employees. “Dr. Sanders really wrapped his arms around us,” says Golden.
The CEO of Cleveland’s schools has probably seen an email or two from Golden. He probably knows that if CMSD is going to be a premier school district in the United States, inspirational leaders like George Golden – leaders who never stop working for students’ success – are the reason why.