Inside Maranatha Christian Academy, a cloudy, gray unassuming Monday is about to be broken up with not exactly a ray of sunshine, but a Ray Dass. He surprises students in-between classes and they recognize him from their test prep sessions. They respond by snapping selfies, shaking hands, and being more than a little surprised that someone they've only seen on video is now in their hallway.
"Kids flock around him in hallways," says Tim Ford, upper principal at Maranatha Christian Academy. "They want his autograph. They know his name."
The name Ray Dass
might not mean much to people over the age 30, but to high school students who are staring down the barrel of SAT tests, ACT tests, and college admissions, Ray Dass is a big deal. He founded and teaches a test prep program, Sara
, that has been integrated into courses at Maranatha Christian Academy.
"They get better at math, reading, writing and at the end, have the highest possible score," says Dass. "They don’t need a tutor."
Administrators at Maranatha Christian Academy are happy with the program. In the six years they’ve been integrating the program into reading and math classes, the average ACT score has gone up from a 24 to a 26.
"For our kids to get into college and get scholarships, it's super important for our kids to have good scores on those high stakes tests," says Tim Ford, upper principal at Maranatha Christian Academy. "Now our kids are getting great scholarship offers, free ride offers, and we have a number of hitting in the 30s now."
Dass spent the day visiting student classes and interacting with students.
"Moments like this are more than worth it because students get so excited," says Dass. "Our whole message is 'know you can.' So people know they can do incredible things. That's what we live for."
Shannon Slatton, firstname.lastname@example.org
on Twitter: @sslatton