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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!


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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

Volunteer Spotlight: Scotty Shaw

Scotty Shaw has been involved at the Center as a volunteer for 6 years now, and currently serves as a math tutor for our Scholars to College students. A Duke graduate, Scotty first got involved while an undergrad as a Pioneer Scholars tutor, and over the years has lent his time and skills not only to tutoring, but also helping out at special events, maintaining the Pioneer Scholars library, and even saving up money to fly back from California to volunteer at our summer basketball camp - now that’s dedication!

Being a long-time volunteer, Scotty has had the ability to truly see our students mature over the years. “Sometimes,” he says, “a kid just needs the right opportunities to shine.”  He recalls a Pioneer Scholars student in his group just a few years ago who was very capable, but very shy. After moving back to Durham last year following a stint living in California, Scotty saw the Emily K Drama Camp’s production of Beauty and the Beast, only to be blown away by the confidence on stage that the same student showed while performing the lead role in the musical! Thanks so much for your continued support of our students, Scotty!

Volunteer Spotlight: Melody Chou

In her fourth semester as a Volunteer Tutor with Pioneer Scholars, Melody Chou works with Ms. Kerry and the students of Group 6/7. When she’s not at the Center, Melody is on staff at Teach For America, working in a strategy and operations role – but that’s not the whole story.

In a previous life she worked in technical and strategic consulting, including a two year stint wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots to work every day in the Canadian Oil Sands! Melody’s longtime passion for education reform brought her back to the education world a couple of years ago, and ultimately led her to her to her work at TFA and volunteerism at the EKC.

She’s continually surprised by how much she learns from her time with the students – about her own leadership, current educational trends, or the best ways to teach a concept. In her own words, “I spend a lot of my time during the workday thinking about how TFA can build stronger champions in our communities to transform educational opportunities for kids, but the time that I spend at the Emily K Center is what keeps me grounded. Plus, I always have a lot of fun!”

Our students are certainly lucky to have such amazing volunteers from so many unique backgrounds – thanks for being one of them, Melody!

Scholars March Forward

There were reporters, community members, and the winningest coach in basketball history at the Center, but all eyes were on

the 140 plus students in the Emily K Center’s K to College programs. First through eighth grade Pioneer Sch

Marching in from youngest to oldest, students took their seats while parents and well-wishers looked on. The younger students were eager with anticipation to learn who would win the coveted Dream-Do-Achieve awards given for academics, character and leadership.olars, and the high school students in the Scholars to College program, marched into the Final Four gym to celebrate another successful year of academic programming putting them squarely on the path toward college.

High school students followed next and the audience stood in respect as the seniors entered the gym, wearing a variety of colored caps and gowns from their various high schools. Although they attend school daily at different places, the seniors could not be closer, having formed a tight bond over their four years together at the Center in pursuit of college acceptances.

Executive Director, Adam Eigenrauch, welcomed the guests and thanked the lead tutors, counselors and volunteers for their unwavering dedication and support of the students.

Awards were then announced by Coordinator of Educational Programming, Heather Hindin. Glenn Green, Faith Merritt and Mishel Gomez were honored for their leadership. A seco

nd group of awards was presented to students who exhibited outstanding character.  Caleb Omari, Kevin Astudillo and Tivin Harris were the recipients in this category. The final group of award winners was acknowledged for superior academics. Adeja Cheek, Nicole Innocencio and Dasha Selezneva received the coveted academic awards for having a commitment to school achievement, pursuing academic interests with passion and showing a genuine interest in improving themselves intellectually.

Keynote speaker and Emily K board chair, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, acknowledged the hard work of all of the students and then paid tribute to the 15 seniors for their outstanding accomplishments. According to Ashlea Hitchcock, Programming and Partnerships Coordinator, the group received 30 college acceptances and more than $500,000 in scholarship funds.

“You are here, having the opportunities you do, because of the people who have come before you, your parents, grandparents or others, those people who have sacrificed for you to be here. As you go off to college, hold those people close to your heart. Never forget what they have done and if you do that you will be successful, for them, and for yourselves,”Krzyzewski said.

The seniors each received a sweatshirt from the college they will be attending in the fall and the well wishes of the entire Emily K Community.

Academics. Character. Leadership.

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