RALLY Program Teaches Academic Skills


When Mrs. Dividu came to Bolles after working at Manhattan College’s student resource center, she brought with her an idea to expand academic support opportunities to more Bolles students than ever.

Discussing this goal with Mrs. Marks, the upper school head suggested that Dividu combine her idea with the existing Rally program for student-athletes, which at the time was managed by Coach Toblin. One of Dividu’s primary objectives in expanding the Rally program was to involve as many students as possible, not only those participating in sports.

“Being a student-athlete is difficult to maneuver given all those course expectations and outside expectations,” she said. “So we kind of merge the two ideas together. Of course, we want to support athletes, but being a student is difficult for everyone.”

Expanding the program required the effort of not only Mrs. Dividu and the other advisors, but also coaches who work with athletes on a daily basis. “Coach Hoekstra and I teamed up and took it over,” she said. “And Coach Hoekstra does a really good job of wrangling the athlete side, and then I do a good job liaising with the other advisors bringing in any advisor referrals for our program.”

Dividu and Hoekstra also work to make the Rally program more accessible by scheduling meetings on Wednesday mornings. “So far we’ve met every Wednesday,” Dividu said. “We’ve shifted times depending on what given faculty requirements are for that morning, because sometimes we have some faculty meetings or department meetings. So it’s either alternated between before zero hour or during zero and so far, we’ve met consecutively for the past three Wednesdays.”

Meetings can focus on a variety of topics, but one of the most popular, Mrs. Dividu said, is organization, including how to use a physical or virtual planner to manage time and stress and heighten achievement.

Another organizational skill Dividu teaches is brain dump exercises, where students write, “What is on your mind? What’s at the forefront of your mind right now, just a few seconds to really clear their thoughts. And then we basically start organizing from there.”

She said that often, students’ thoughts are scattered, with “academic thoughts mixed with personal lives, mixed with other requirements, mixed with appointments, mixed with all types of things.” Brain dump exercises, she said, “strengthen you as a student to be able to retain things and retrieve those facts faster by clearing up some of the clutter, clearing up some of the fog.”

Currently, RALLY meetings focus on general academic skills like organization and time management, but Dividu and Hoekstra would “love to have subject specific days, where students can come in and ask subject specific questions,” including writing skills, possibly in
collaboration with the History or English department or NHS tutors.

Students do not need an advisor or coach’s referral to participate in the program. Rather, “All are welcome. We’re happy to have you. And if you don’t think you need it, or you don’t think the topic applies, maybe just give it a try and stop by, because you’d be surprised how a helpful hint or tip or trick can work out successfully for you.”