Log In

Reset Password
News Education Local News Nation & World New Mexico

ZAP program keeps Bayfield Middle School students from slipping through cracks

Zeros Aren’t Permitted identifies those with missing assignments and allows them to get caught up
Bayfield Middle School Principal Marcia Hoerl on May 1 looks through the small filing system as she talks about the school’s ZAP program, which helps students get caught up on missing class assignments. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

BAYFIELD – Balancing school work and extracurricular activities can be a tough task for Bayfield Middle School students.

They may have to forgo activities they enjoy, such sports or music, just to get caught up on missing assignments, which can prove to be an even tougher task when the number of assignments begin mounting.

“It’s a lot to juggle, especially in middle school, when you miss class,” said Laura Hill, a math teacher at Bayfield Middle School. “You don’t just miss a day, you miss four core classes, and it’s hard to catch up.”

Enter the school’s “Zeros Aren’t Permitted” program, also called ZAP, which allows students who fall behind on their school work to get caught up on their assignments.

“The teachers are usually looking at attendance and work completion,” said Bayfield Middle School Principal Marcia Hoerl. “So it’s a pretty easy check. The recommendations take us 10 minutes during a team meeting.”

The program launched in late January, and it is showing promise, especially for students involved in after-school activities.

“Everybody definitely recognizes how important it is and how beneficial it is for the kids to be able to do sports and things,” said Karen Hall, a counselor at Bayfield Middle School. “Teachers will make that reminder, too, that, ‘Your grades are falling behind.’ We all really want them to be able to participate in those things.”

Laura Hill, an eighth grade math teacher at Bayfield Middle School, talks about the school’s ZAP program, which helps students who have missing class assignments get caught up with their work. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Fast results

On average, about 15 students are being referred to the program each week, spending 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the end of the school day.

“I usually am very gentle in how I say, ‘We just need you to get back on track,’” Hoerl said.

Just over three months since it began, according to data from school officials, about 30% of students who took part in the program got caught up with their assignments and resumed doing their favorite activities within a week’s time.

The remaining 70% are those who may be chronically absent from school, in which school officials meet with those students and contact their family to address concerns.

To participate in sports, for example, students must maintain at least a 65%, or “D” grade average, to be eligible. Teachers and coaches are tasked with monitoring a student’s grades.

For those students who are getting back on the right path, they’re encouraged by how the program is helping them.

“I’ve seen kids who miss school for various reasons and their grade drops just slightly behind,” Hill said. “… Those are the kids that really come in and they utilize their time well, and it really helps them to get caught up. (ZAP’s) a good space for kids to get work done. … I’ve noticed positive results, not just in keeping up with their school work, but even in terms of (benchmarks), their classroom grades.”

Nya Sayer, 13, a student-athlete at Bayfield Middle School, has used the school’s ZAP program, which helps students with missing class assignments get caught up. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
A gradual approach

One example of a ZAP program worksheet included a student working on identifying prepositional phrases for a language arts class.

That student, who does track and field, completed one of several examples on the worksheet. They learned they had to return to another session to complete the work.

From there, the student would complete two or three additional examples on the worksheet.

Hoerl said that even if progress may be slow, staff members remain supportive in gradually getting students back to where they need to be.

Karen Hall, a counselor at Bayfield Middle School, said extracurricular activities are important and beneficial for students. The school’s ZAP program helps students get caught up on missing assignments, which makes it more likely they can remain engaged with extracurricular activities. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Students desire extra time

Nya Sayer, who plays volleyball at Bayfield Middle School, wanted to come back after her first session in the ZAP program.

She said she would use each subsequent session just to get her homework done on a given day, ensuring she’d be free to turn her full attention to volleyball practice with her club team that evening.

Before enrolling in ZAP, Sayer said she didn’t have time to get some of her assignments done outside volleyball practice.

“I was kind of struggling a little bit on my grades. I think that helped me get my grades up, and it allowed me to focus on work and let me have a chance to get caught up,” she said. “… I wanted to get my grades up so I can play volleyball.”

Sayer’s club team had its latest tournament the first weekend of May, and ZAP has helped free up her schedule for events like that.

“She realized 30 minutes of just concentrated work was what she needed, and she’s a good student,” Hoerl said.

Aside from finishing an extra assignment, Hoerl said students may need to redo a test during a ZAP session.

“It really is case-dependent,” she said.

The ZAP program, which is year-round, is more or less a safety net to ensure students don’t get buried in missing assignments and don’t have to miss out on activities.

Hoerl said she also wants to keep parents in the loop when their children are caught up and able to resume activities.


Reader Comments