By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
David Heiber founded Concentric Educational Solutions (CES) in 2010 to bridge the gap between home and the classroom. The word “concentric” means having a common center, and under Heiber’s direction, students are at the center of all of the company’s efforts.
The organization’s mission is to support students, families and schools by identifying obstacles that negatively impact students’ education. Services and resources are then provided to improve student outcomes.
Before the company’s launch, Heiber worked as a teacher and school administrator in Baltimore and D.C. He noticed how under-informed educators were about their students’ home and personal lives, which can have permeating effects on their success in the classroom.
“I just thought that we really misunderstood our students, and that we were trying to ‘fix them’ without understanding them,” said Heiber.
CES’ work began in D.C. at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, but today, the company has served over 200 schools across 15 states, impacting over 350,000 students.
The magic of the companies’ work lies in its home visits that are conducted by professional student advocates, many of whom are historically, Black college and university (HBCU) graduates, to understand the factors contributing to students’ absenteeism, academic challenges and behavioral issues.
Heiber, himself, often played truant as a teenager. He was a cross country and track star, and during his senior year of high school, he had multiple scholarship offers to run for Division I schools.
Heiber said because of his talent on the track, he thought it was acceptable for him to leave school during the day. His grandparents, who raised him, petitioned him to stay in school, and one day he did– but he skipped classes to go to all three lunch periods.
During the third lunch, his assistant principal found him. He didn’t scold Heiber for cutting class. Instead, he said he had been searching for Heiber for several hours to inform him that there had been a family emergency.
His grandfather had had a massive heart attack, and when Heiber finally got to the hospital, he was dead.
A little over a month later, his grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and Heiber’s life took a turn. He got involved in criminal activity and was sent to prison for second degree burglary.
While there, his grandmother died from the cancer, and he was not able to attend her funeral services.
This led Heiber to turn his life around. He earned his GED diploma and got involved with an alternative program whose facilitators ultimately wrote to the judge overseeing Heiber’s case and asked him to amend his sentence. The judge complied.
Heiber said it was God’s grace that got him back on track and allowed him to become an educator and now, seasoned entrepreneur.
While home visits are the cornerstone of CES’ work, the company has most recently added mentoring and tutoring services that are also led by professional student advocates. This engenders a holistic approach where instructional materials are paired with social emotional learning and family engagement.
The company has vowed to be an evidence- and research-based organization, and currently, Johns Hopkins is conducting research to evaluate the efficacy of its services. Thus far, the business has learned that students want to have more frequent mentoring and tutoring sessions with longer durations.
“Next Level” will be CES’ theme for the 2022-2023 school year, and in the near future, the company will release a pictorial history and documentary depicting students’ and educators’ experiences with its services and a book to delineate its strategies and program framework.
“We want to continue to improve our work, and we want to make sure that we continue to impact more students, and that’s through strategic growth,” said Heiber. “I don’t want to grow just for the sake of growing. I want to make sure that we’re growing with intention and we’re constantly getting better.”
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