SEAD commemorates progress over 10 years
By Robert Szypko, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth program invited program alumni, former volunteers and staff members, and friends to sit in on activities and special events in celebration of SEAD’s 10th anniversary on Saturday. Throughout its 10 years, SEAD — which provides college preparatory mentoring for high school students from under-resourced school districts across the country — has facilitated the collegiate aspirations of 180 students, which has required the involvement of 2,782 Dartmouth sophomores, according to Jay Davis ’90, director of the program since its inception.
Davis discussed SEAD’s progress over its 10-year history as part of the day’s events, which also included opportunities for guests to visit SEAD classes, a slide show of pictures from over the 10 years and a dinner reception.
Davis said he wanted to use the occasion as an opportunity to reflect on the overall progress of the program.
“We kind of live in the moment most of the time with SEAD because there are a lot of things happening,” Davis said. “Rarely do we take the time to just look back.”
SEAD began in August 2000 when former Tucker Foundation Dean Stuart Lord asked Carol Fuchs to choose what to do with the sum of money donated to Tucker in her father’s name, Fuchs said in an interview with The Dartmouth. Fuchs is now an executive committee member for SEAD.
Fuchs said she responded to Lord’s question “with tears rolling down [her] cheeks” that she was passionate about “inner-city kids and education” and wanted to put the money toward those two things.
The program has proved to be “better than I ever could have hoped,” Fuchs said. She said that seeing the program reach its 10th anniversary is “not a question of being proud but of being fulfilled.”
Andrew Garrod, who was the chair of the education department at Dartmouth at the time of SEAD’s founding, agreed to help create the program and suggested that it include both urban and rural students, according to Davis. Davis was then asked to direct the program.
The original goal of SEAD was “to make a difference for kids who might not be going to college, who are not sure they’re going to college, to make it so that they will go to college,” Davis said during the presentation Saturday.
Davis said at the time he thought, “This is so worth it, this is so exciting, let’s try to make this happen.”
When the first group of SEAD students arrived on campus in July 2001, the program had no academic coaches or summer advisors, no laptops for students, no daily schedules and no concrete plans for extending the program for students to three-year terms, according to Davis.
“Those things that seem so ridiculously obvious now, weren’t,” Davis said.
The idea of extending the program to three years, which seems obvious now, was probably the single biggest change made to the program, Davis said. The curriculum was adjusted accordingly, so that each student now goes through SEAD I, SEAD II and SEAD III over the course of three summers, Davis said.
Roughly 100 staff members have worked for the program since it began and approximately 745 mentors and academic coaches have worked with SEAD participants, according to Davis.
“I also very much value college access, I think it’s really critical,” Helen Damon-Moore, a member of SEAD’s executive board and director of service and education programs at Tucker, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
Damon-Moore also served as a summer advisor to a student who is now in the SEAD III stage of the program.
“I have seen the huge difference it’s made for [the student I advised],” Damon-Moore said. “She has gone from, ‘Could I go to college?’ to ‘Maybe I can’t go to college,’ ... to ‘Which college would it be?’”
Miladys Perez, who came to Dartmouth in 2006 as a SEAD I scholar, is now a rising sophomore at Vanderbilt University and a graduate assistant for the SEAD program this summer. Perez said in an interview that she has noticed that there is now a more diverse pool of SEAD scholars than when she began the program.
“They are looking at a wider selection of students,” Perez said. “There’s so much diversity. SEAD works. I didn’t envision myself getting into college until I got here.”
Perez said that she has noticed an increase in environmental sustainability efforts in the SEAD program, with initiatives such as switching from paper plates to reusable plates. SEAD has saved more than 4,500 paper plates, among other items, since it began instituting sustainability measures in 2007, according to Davis.
Davis said he has no plans to expand the program to more than the 30 high school participants SEAD works with in each section, but that SEAD has begun to expand its impact by working with the National Partnership for Educational Access and the National Summer Learning Association.
SEAD has also started connecting with SEAD students’ high schools to compare performance in the SEAD program with performance during the normal school year, Davis said, which allows for more individualized SEAD educational plans.