Dr. David Heiber is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Concentric Educational Solutions (CES). Under Dr. Heiber’s leadership, CES has been recognized for its innovative approach that places support of the whole student at the center of the educational experience. Dr. Heiber and his team have partnered with over 100 schools in 20 states.
Each morning, I awaken with gratitude, appreciating my past journey, anticipating the path ahead, and cherishing the meaningful work I engage in. My profession originated from an unfulfilled necessity I sought to address—an essential need for helping unsupported children.
Throughout the nation, schools are grappling with chronic absenteeism. A recent report unveiled that a staggering two-thirds of the country’s schools experienced significant instances of chronic absenteeism during the 2021-2022 academic year.
We are all working hard to make sure students are going to school on a regular basis and learning. I know that in the pursuit of narrowing the opportunity gap, particularly for underserved populations, district leaders and administrators have an important responsibility. It’s imperative for them to adopt evidence-based best practices that address the diverse needs of students.
When I started Concentric Educational Solutions, it was to fill a need I saw when I was growing up – the lack of adults in supporting roles. I vowed that the work I did would center on the student and how to meet each one where they are. Working with schools and school districts is unique. You always have to bear in mind what is best for the student. The work the Concentric team does focuses on five fundamental approaches to ensure an impactful and holistic approach.
Authenticity trumps ethnicity: In working with educators and school leaders, I’ve learned that genuine connections are built on authenticity. When educators engage with students, irrespective of their background, bringing an authentic self to the table creates stronger connections. As a Black man working in urban school districts, I’ve realized that authenticity resonates profoundly with students—earning respect not just due to shared ethnicity but because of a genuine, relatable connection.
Transparency in support: Open and honest communication with students and their families is pivotal. Transparency about the support available, both academically and emotionally, establishes trust. It’s about ensuring that families are aware of the resources and aid accessible to them, creating a collaborative environment to foster student success.
Consistency in support and messaging: Consistency in support is paramount. Personal experiences have taught me that unwavering support and consistent messaging can positively impact a student’s life. I recall my mentor, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, who didn’t give up on me despite personal struggles. His consistent support, even during my lowest moments, made a significant difference.
Empathy over sympathy: It’s essential to be empathetic while holding individuals accountable. Differentiating between sympathy and empathy is crucial. Empathy fosters a supportive environment while ensuring accountability. It’s about being brutally honest while understanding and empathizing with the challenges students face.
Personalized approach – one size does not fit all: Recognizing that each student is unique is vital. Embracing diverse learning styles, experiences, and needs allows educators to tailor their approach. It’s about acknowledging that a singular educational method may not effectively meet the needs of every student.
Drawing from personal experiences and insights, I can attest to the transformational power of these approaches. By embracing authenticity, transparency, consistency, empathy, and a personalized approach, educators and district leaders can significantly impact students and effectively bridge the opportunity gap.
As we navigate the complexities of education, it’s crucial to continually evolve, adapting to the needs of students while fostering an environment that champions equity, growth, and success for all.