The Plan for Progress

February 23, 2018


Editor-in-Chief | sjg021@ latech.edu

Planners for Progress mentors meet with middle school students to teach the importance of organization and time management skills. – Photo courtesy of Amy Vessel

While many college students are primarily concerned with planning their own futures, Jacob Cambre set out to help area middle school students shape their own.


Cambre, a junior biology major, established the nonprofit organization Planners for Progress with the intention of teaching middle school students effective planning and time management skills. He said the inspiration for the organization came after reading Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto,” a book that detailed mistakes made by medical professionals because of lack of attention to details. Cambre said he drew the connection between the book’s subject matter and using a planner for daily activities.


“Our mission is to provide middle school students with a daily planner and teach goal-setting skills in order to ensure an organized and successful future,” he said. “I personally use my planner all the time. It seemed to me that people who do use a planner have better grades or are more involved.”


Cambre, who serves as president of Planners for Progress, said his original intent was simply to buy planners and donate them to schools; however, the organization quickly shifted into a mentorship program.


“We go to the schools incrementally, and in the planner, they have goals on certain pages,” he said. “The mentors, who are Louisiana Tech students, talk about how to set goals and kind of inspire the kids.”


Cambre said he only expected the program to reach about 50 kids; however, Planners for Progress has partnered with 3 schools — Quitman, Weston and Jonesboro-Hodge — and has reached more than 500 students.


Cambre said though the nonprofit is only in its inaugural year, he hopes to see it continue to develop into a more formal organization during the next year.


“Next year we want to make it more like a job, and hopefully we’ll be able to compensate them through donations and things like that, but that’s the long-term plan: to keep engaging and hopefully keep expanding,” he said. “It’s not perfect by any means; it’s just the first year. We hope to make it long-term, sustainable, worth the money, worth the effort.”


Planners for Progress currently has approximately 50 active members, including a four-member executive team, which includes Cambre, treasurer Taylor Giddens, vice president Skylar Giddens and secretary Maddie Patton.
Patton, a junior marketing major, said she believes the organization is successful in helping students develop effective planning skills.


“Planners for Progress is a hands-on approach, teaching students the importance of time management at an early age,” she said. “It’s a great resource that promotes independence and allows students to feel accomplished when a task is completed.”


The organization has also received major support from Tech’s College of Education and is advised by Amy Vessel, to whom Cambre attributes much of its success.


Vessel, an associate professor in the College of Education and executive director of Tech’s Clinical Residency Center, said the decision to advise the organization was an easy one to make after hearing of their dedication to the cause.


“What they’re really doing is sharing their love for Louisiana Tech, they’re sharing the importance of having goals and planning your future,” she said. “They’re instilling in these students the importance of being organized and staying current with all your schoolwork and are literally planting the seed for stellar future Louisiana Tech students and I’m just so proud of them.”


Vessel said she and the organization are researching grants and thinking of ways to provide funding for the program to continue next year.


“There’s no telling where this program will be in a few years because of the work that they’re doing,” she said. “They’re just getting started.”


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