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Academic Achievement Award

Oyinka Ajasa, a sixth grade Pioneer Scholars student, won a prestigious honor - the Durham Public Schools Academic Achievement Award at Rogers-Herr Middle School.

That’s big time - as in, all A’s, all year long!

Oyinka has worked hard here every afternoon for the last four years. She is joined in the Pioneer Scholars program by her twin sister and older brother.

Congratulations to Oyinka and the Ajasa family!

May 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Our Students | No comment

Environmental Science Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to our very own Amy Jenkins for being named Durham Soil and Water’s 2014 High School Environmental Science Teacher of the Year!

Amy teaches at Southern High School while also serving as both a Pioneer Scholars Lead Tutor and Scholars to College Lead Counselor.

Congrats, Amy, our students are lucky to have you!


May 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Our Organization | No comment

Class of 2016 Gives Back

The Scholars to College Class of 2016 did a great job volunteering recently with the Friends of Sandy Creek! This was a student-led, student-organized community service project which required hands-on planning and leadership skills.

May 7, 2014 at 11:28 am | Our Students | No comment

Scholar on Campus Student Attends GradNation Summit

Tanazja, a Scholar on Campus student, was recently recognized for earning a 3.0 GPA or higher during her first semester at North Carolina Central University. But, that’s not all! Tanazja was specially selected to attend a national discussion on college access.

Out of 230 who applied she was selected to join a small group of outstanding young people from many different backgrounds. Together they will offer a youth voice to discussions that will take place at the GradNation Summit in Washington, DC, April 27-29.

Some of the highlighted speakers include US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NBC News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Corespondent Andrea Mitchell, US Senator Cory Booker, and America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell.

April 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Our Students | No comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Hank Hankla

Hank Hankla came to the Center as a single event helper in the fall of 2011. After getting to know our educational work, he began tutoring regularly with our elementary-aged students.

A veteran educator, this semester Hank works with the students in Group 2 in Pioneer Scholars, using his background in math education to not only advance their skills, but also to build trust and contribute to their positive self-esteem.

Dedicated to the work being done for our many students, he joined our Advancement Committee and events committees to ensure that, as an organization, we have continual financial support.

His devotion to the Center has prompted him to encourage friends and family to get on board with our mission. Hank exemplifies all the best in a devoted volunteer. Thank you, Hank!

April 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Our Organization | No comment

Spring Break Camp 2014

For the seventh year in a row, loyal Emily K Center friend, Russell Newman, led our Spring Break Camp.

A BIG THANK YOU to “Coach Russell” and our countless volunteers who together made 2014 Spring Break a week to remember for our 35 campers.

April 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Our Organization | No comment

More than 100 attend S2C Open House

Just over a hundred rising high school freshmen and their parents attended our Scholars to College open house on Wednesday, April 2. The students had been personally nominated by a Durham educator who considered them strong candidates for our four-year high school program. The information session is the first step in a process that includes a written application and an interview.

Center staff welcomed those in attendance and gave an overview of the program and it’s goals. Parents and students were excited to learn that the Emily K Center offers valuable support in areas like time management instruction, leadership training, extra-curricular planning, career exploration, financial literacy, SAT preparation, resume writing, college application support and financial aid guidance.

The nearly one-hour program concluded with current Scholars to College seniors answering questions from students and parents.

April 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Our Organization | No comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Alexandria Thompson

Alexandria Thompson is a senior at the NC School of Science and Mathematics, and is the co-president of her school’s Emily K Tutoring Club. In this role Alexandria coordinates a group of students from NCSSM who come to the Center to work with our Pioneer Scholars students each Thursday.

She started volunteering with our 2nd graders in the fall of 2012, and this year works with many of the same students in Group 3/4A, noting that building long-term relationships with the students by staying with them two years in a row has made the experience especially rewarding for her.

Alexandria feels that volunteering at the Center has been a great way to engage with the Durham community outside of NCSSM’s campus, which she admits can sometimes feel like living in a bubble. When she’s not tutoring, you might find Alexandria practicing yoga, studying astrology, or learning a foreign language!

Her post-graduation plans are still undecided, but she’s considering Harvard, Yale, UVA, and Duke, among others. Thank you for your dedication to our students, Alexandria, and best of luck in finalizing your college plans!

April 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Our Organization | No comment

Dr. Bray Inspires S2C Mathletes

Dr. Bray represents the epitome of the “skilled volunteer” who generously shares his passion for teaching with the young people in his community. He began volunteering as a one-on-one mathematics tutor for our Scholars to College students in October of 2011, and from the outset we knew that having a Duke professor as a volunteer tutor was something special.

Our students quickly realized this as well, with “Mr. Hugh” soon becoming our most requested tutor. He volunteered once or twice per week in this capacity for two years, always making time to work with our students while juggling the busy life of an esteemed professor and raising a family of five kids of his own.

Hugh, however, felt he could do more. This fall he came to us with an idea for a new initiative that would allow him to better utilize his skills and reach more students. The result was a new math course, dubbed “S2C Mathletes”, in which Dr. Bray teaches advanced math topics to a small group of our most talented math students. His goal is to spark their interest in STEM fields by showing them the exciting applications that lie beyond Algebra II or Pre-Calculus, while at the same time honing core math skills to ensure high performance in their courses.

It was apparent from their first session in January that this course was something the six students not only enjoyed and learned from, but were extremely proud to be a part of. As they filed back into the lobby after the first session, we saw grins, laughter, and excitement – after nearly two hours of math! “What did you learn today?” we asked Nikki, a freshman. “The theory of relativity and magic squares. It was pretty cool!” Since January, the Mathletes meet each Thursday afternoon from 4:00 to 5:45, and for these curious young minds, it does not seem like enough.

While it was clear to us early on that Hugh was a first-class volunteer, we think the students’ words provide the best endorsement. Taquoia, a sophomore Mathlete, says, “It doesn’t feel like math class at school, it’s much more fun. It’s important to have math professors like him to help us see that math isn’t boring and it’s needed in all our lives. I am glad I’m in the club.” Nikki, a 9th grader, says, “Mr. Hugh provides a great learning environment for students with his vibrant, intelligent personality. He creates a unique learning experience that students cannot get in an ordinary classroom.”

All successful people can look back at their many years of schooling and point to one teacher who showed them new possibilities for their future and inspired them to strive for excellence. We strongly believe that Dr. Hubert Bray can and will be that teacher for many of our Scholars to College students.

Our students are intelligent, inquisitive, and driven. With the comprehensive college preparatory framework of the Scholars to College program, coupled with extra opportunities provided by mentors like “Mr. Hugh”, our students can unlock their potential and discover the vast opportunities that await them in college and beyond.

It’s important to note that Dr. Hubert Bray was recently recognized by Duke University with an Employee Service AwardNominated by Center staff, Dr. Bray was commended for his voluntary efforts as a dedicated math tutor for Scholars to College students. As part of the employee award, the Office of Durham and Regional Affairs contributed $200 to the Emily K Center.

March 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Our Organization | No comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Geoff Houtz

Geoff Houtz is a senior pre-med student at Duke majoring in neuroscience. Geoff had a long standing interest in teaching and tutoring, and in the Fall of 2012 began volunteering as a one-on-one math tutor with our Scholars to College students.

Showcasing his versatility, Geoff made the transition this year to Pioneer Scholars, where he shares his knowledge with Mr. Brandon and Group 7/8. Working with a wide range of students in both programs, Geoff says across the board the most rewarding part about volunteering at the Center is seeing the students consistently push themselves to do better, as well as their excitement about learning new things.

As a Duke student, there are countless opportunities to volunteer at so many great organizations in Durham. Geoff says, “of all my volunteerexperiences while at Duke, the experience at EKC has been the most rewarding, and working with students directly has had a major impact on my future.”

After graduation, he’ll be joining Teach for America as a high school science teacher in Charlotte, NC. We know your experiences here will prove valuable as you transition into teaching next year, and thanks for your dedication!

March 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Our Organization | No comment

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