The PALS (Partners Assisting Learning in the Schools) mentorship program is an after school program that assists students who are suffering from poor academic achievement. Students in this program have difficulty with either organizing themselves for school or sustaining the motivation to complete their schoolwork. Some of the students do not have strong family support.
Through the PALS mentorship program, Denise Haala has made a significant difference in the lives of the students for the past four years. She has helped students to study "smarter" and taught them valuable organizational skills. Students who work with Denise become more connected to the school community and more confident in their abilities.
Denise actively builds a rapport with students through encouragement and friendly conversation while limiting behavior that is counterproductive. Through her involvement students are able to perceive adults as helpful and school as a positive place. Students who are mentored by Denise show an improved attitude and greater motivation toward academic achievement.
In addition to one-on-one mentoring, she has worked with groups of students during times of volunteer shortage and has gradually assumed an increasing level of responsibility, currently functioning as an assistant program coordinator for PALS.
Denise recently designed and implemented an effective attendance incentive plan for the PALS program, which has increased student after school attendance and motivation. In addition to all of her work with the PALS program, she established the Mac n' Math program. Within this structure, Denise, who has a background in education, utilizes a variety of activities in order to increase student skills and confidence in mathematics.