Heiber is founder and executive director of Concentric Educational Solutions, an organization that helps incorporate student support services in school systems in the District, Prince George's County and other schools.
Why is there a need for extra support services in the school systems. Don't they have this already?
The challenge with education is really shifting the mind-set for students, and the answer is usually in the treatment. We spend a whole lot of resources on intervention. We work with schools and help them integrate their student support -- discipline, attendance, special education. It's coordinating these services in the building to increase academic support for students.
How does the program work?
Where there is the most bang for the buck is prevention. Home visits are an example. Our home visit approach is a little more innovative and aggressive. I don't believe one home visit works or two home visits work. It's about relationship building; it's the process. It might take 10 home visits for another student, so it is individualizing the home visit process. I need the teacher to have the relationship with the student and with the parent. This allows the teacher to get more information about how to individualize instruction and do lesson planning based on the information they get.
Isn't that a lot of extra work for teachers?
It's a challenge for teachers and a mind-set change. But what I suggest to them is if they do the work on the front end, it's less work on the back end.
What prompted you to start this organization?
I was the director of student support services at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in D.C., and our funding partner there, NewSchools Venture Fund, they were looking for a way to improve student achievement and reduce suspensions. So, we shifted the way we supported students there, and it dropped our suspensions significantly.
What is the program's central idea?
Concentricity is putting students at the center of school operations ... What this program does is personalize the learning.