The Lion’s Den: Helping Students Achieve Personal and Academic Success

The Lion's Den is a program that helps give students the confidence to take control of their own education and to understand how to access the resources available to them in order to achieve personal and academic success.
How can I support incoming students who achieve in the academic middle?
Ms. Charlene Howard, a guidance counselor at Carroll, asked herself this question three years ago, after recognizing the need to better prepare some of the incoming freshman for the academic rigors of a college prep curriculum. Thus, the Lion’s Den was formed. The letters in the name are an acronym for Lending Intentional, Ongoing, Need-based Support to Develop Effective Noteworthy Students.
In describing the overarching goal of the program, Ms. Howard says, “The Lion’s Den helps students cultivate themselves and supports them as they acquire the skills to do that.”
The program involves students, parents, teachers and mentors. Students are responsible for meeting with teachers, setting and monitoring academic plans, attending Lion’s Den group sessions twice a month, meeting with guidance counselors, and identifying their own needs. Parents, teachers and counselors hold students accountable, and field trips like the scavenger hunt are used to incorporate fun, team-building activities into the mix. Starting in January, students will be matched with volunteers from the Order of Malta, who will provide one-on-one mentoring.
Shakyra Harris ’19 wanted to join the Lion’s Den because it was an opportunity to get to know new people and experience new things. She says, “This is a good experience because I get to spend time with my classmates and travel to different places around the city.”  
William Jones ‘18 joined the program last year when he was a freshman. He decided to remain in it for a second year because it was so much fun. He says, “Being in the group helps me be better prepared for my classes. I also really enjoy the field trips.”  
Using a proactive approach, the Lion’s Den encourages students to advocate for themselves and to strengthen skills that will serve them well into the future, including the ability to take ownership of their education, make thoughtful decisions, problem-solve, and build positive relationships with adults and peers.