Is Your School Transition Program Stuck in the 1980’s?

04/23/2015  | 

Nearly every school in the country does some sort of orientation for their incoming students. But in many schools this consists primarily of a tour of the building, counselors discussing course options and administrators lecturing students on school rules and regulations.

But does this really address the questions and concerns coming from the students and their parents? If they are more concerned about getting stuffed in a locker or lost on the way to class, they are not likely to listen intently to the discussion on core classes and the number of math credits necessary to graduate. Incoming students want to know what their school is REALLY like and they want to hear it from upper-class students. The parade of adult talking heads does little but provide background noise for the confusion, concern and angst of the incoming students.

Meanwhile, well-meaning and dedicated administrators, counselors and teachers find themselves mired in the paperwork and confusion of a new school year, leaving them ill- equipped to provide these incoming students with the information and encouragement needed to survive and thrive during those very important first few weeks of school. From this challenge came the Kick-Off Program, a comprehensive approach to transition that enlists and empowers upperclassmen as mentors for the incoming students.

The Kick-Off Program™was founded in 2001 by lifelong educator, Lee Lonzo, to help schools around the country better transition their incoming students by using upper-class students from within the school as role models and leaders for every single incoming student. Starting in Indiana with one school, the KO Program has been implemented in over 350 middle and high schools in 26 states.

The Kick-Off Transition Program is a comprehensive transition, orientation and mentoring program welcoming new students and their parents to middle school and high school. The goals of the program are based on the research that identifies the key indicators for improved graduation rates and success beyond high school: grades, attendance, behavior and involvement in school activities. Upper-class Kick-Off Mentors (KOMs) are trained to take ownership in the successes of transitioning high school freshmen in these key areas. The mantra of these mentors: Failure is NOT an option for MY freshmen! Schools have reported significant improvements in these areas as well as graduation rates.

Additionally, schools report that the Kick-Off Program provides leadership opportunities for upper-class students and that the program leads to an improvement in overall school spirit and school climate.

The Kick-Off Transition Program creates a more spirited student body, promotes school safety, and creates positive and meaningful connections for every incoming student. This process opens channels of communication that help students feel more comfortable in a foreign environment and is proven to reduce school violence and bullying. The program’s effects are still felt long after the Kick-Off Orientation Day, as the connections between the new student and mentor blossoms into a positive relationship throughout the year.

The Kick-Off Mentoring Program offers schools a variety of services based on the individual needs of the school. Services include varying levels of staff development, mentor/mentee activities and supplementary materials, on-site trainings, on-site consultation, social networking and administrative support, allowing each school to choose the services that best meet their desired outcomes based on available resources.


A School In Virginia Had A 66% Reduction In Freshmen Failures After The First Year Of Running The KO Program.
A School In Illinois Went From Over 600 Freshman F’s To Less Than 100 In One Year.
A School In Ohio Had More Than 20 Freshmen Fights And Had Zero The First Semester They Implemented The Kick-Off Program.
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