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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!

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.

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.

Scholar on Campus Selected for White House Initiative

A sophomore mathematics major at Greensboro’s
Bennett College, Jasmine was selected to serve in the first nationwide class of 75 ambassadors for The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Over the course of the next year, Jasmine will provide outreach and communication with her fellow students about the value of education and will help advance President Obama’s college completion goal.

S2C Student Wins Human Rights Youth Award

City of Durham’s Human Relations Commission recently honored Scholars to College student, Mishel (Class of 2014) with the Human Rights Youth Award

This annual award is presented to an individual or a group of individuals under the age of 18. The recipient of this award exhibits dedication to human relations at a young age, leading the way for Durham’s future leaders

Summer Scholars

Hard work never felt so good! That’s what we’re hearing from the 50 Summer Scholars participating in our five week summer bridge program at the Emily K Center. Students from 2nd through 9th grade arrive at 8 am daily and spend the next 4 hours in project- based learning, where the student-teacher ratio is an amazing 6 to 1.

“Studies show that students in low income households lose information learned during the school year at a greater rate than their more privileged peers,” said Heather Hindin, Coordinator of Educational Programming, “In terms of math skills, over the summer students can actually lose 2 1/2 months of grade level equivalency.”

But not if they are at the Emily K Center. Each student participates in a one hour math block and a one hour literacy block, as well as other enrichment programming. Rising ninth graders focus of high school preparation work to help facilitate their transition to high school.

Teachers submitted their proposals for their student’s projects months ago and the proposals were evaluated to ensure that they were grade appropriate and task appropriate. “And, of course, being summer, we made sure there was a big fun factor too,” Miss Heather added. Some of the projects included writing assignments where students create their own mysteries and a math project where students design and produce their own math games. The dynamic of the five weeks will be displayed at a Project Fair at the end of the program.

Miss Heather said that the teachers are also really excited about summer programming. “During the school year we don’t see our Scholars until after they have been at school all day. It’s a real treat to see them all bright eyed in the morning and eager to start their day.” The Project Fair will be held Friday July 19th and all are welcome!

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.

High School Attendees Exceed Expectations

If the number of students and their families attending the information session for our high school program is an indication of how eager Durham students are to go the extra mile in their quest toward college, then our community has great things in store!

More than 100 families attended our Scholars to College open house at the prospect of joining the Emily K classes of 2016 and 2017. Students in attendance had been nominated for consideration by a Durham educator who considered them a good candidate for the four year program. The information session was the first step in a process that includes a written application and an interview.

Families began arriving more than an hour before the scheduled session to learn about what the program has to offer. Executive Director, Adam Eigenrauch, and program coordinator, Ashlea Hitchock, encouraged students and families to consider what the opportunity and commitment would entail. Over the course of the four year period students receive valuable support including time management instruction, leadership training, targeted extra-curricular planning, career exploration, financial literacy, SAT preparation, resume writing, college application support and financial aid guidance.

Current seniors answered questions from students and their parents regarding the program. Responding to one question from a mother about how to best support her student, program senior Gerardo, shared his perspective.

“My parents didn’t go to college and they don’t know anything about the complicated college process. But they love me and want the best for me, so my dad, he can’t do as much as he would like, but he figures his contribution is to get me to the Emily K Center every week, month after month, year after year. When I graduate from college and am successful then I’ll be in a position to help my family.”

Gerardo and the current graduating class of seniors, along with more than 100 other Emily K students in grades 1-11 will take the stage on May 23 for the Center’s end-of-year celebration, the May March, where Emily K’s board chairman, Mike Krzyzewski will give the keynote address.

Pioneer Scholar Profile: Shirley

Among a snacking group of Emily K Center’s Pioneer Scholars, one little voice rises above the crowd, “I am always so excited to come to Emily K because it’s fun!” That excited voice is Shirley, a first grader with big plans for the skills she learns each day at Emily K.

Shirley says she likes coming to the Emily K Center because of the work she does with her Lead Tutor, Ms. Judy. “She [Ms. Judy] gives us works so we can get smarter,” Shirley says, and it is definitely working in the case of this precocious 6-year-old. Shirley readily admits she is a much better learner after coming to Emily K. Her favorite subject is math, “Because you can add and it’s easy to do and it’s fun,” she says, adding, “I didn’t know 20+20 or 40+40 before, and now I do!”

When she grows up, Shirley hopes to become a teacher just like Ms. Judy. “Shirley is a great helper to her fellow students,” says volunteer Rachel Johnson, “She loves helping her group with math problems, or sounding out difficult words.” Working with Ms. Judy at Emily K is not just helping Shirley with her schoolwork, but also giving her a role model for when she becomes a teacher someday. “My teacher and Emily K show me how to be a good teacher,” Shirley says.

More Reason to say, “Thank God it’s Friday!”

Looking forward to the end of the week is nothing new for students, but at Emily K the scholars now have multiple reasons to say, “TGIF!” This semester all of the upper grades are taking part in some of the coolest seven week long mini courses we’ve offered yet.

First up in rotation is Youth Digital Studios, which provides instruction in 3D game design. This summer the organization generously donated scholarships for a number of the Emily K students and now they have taken it one step further and are on campus delivering programming to even more students. A few of the more-than-willing participants are finding that they have an interest and talent in an area they never knew existed.

Students participating in a second block, Odyssey of the Mind, are practicing creative problem-solving, where team members work together to solve a predefined problem. They also present their solutions, which gives our scholars practice of their presentation skills as well. Many high schools in the area have Odyssey of the Mind teams, so hopefully, some students’ interest might be sparked to continue the activity and become a real asset to their high school in competitions.

Duke Red Cross for Kids is a third block that provides a forum for the upper grade students to discuss healthy living. They also tackle a wide range of safety-related topics including first aid. It’s essential information, but can be pretty dry unless it’s presented in a fun and interactive way – the goal of the Duke students who present the program.

Last, but certainly not least, is Postcards for Progress. A student group with a passion for both the arts and international communications from UNC, is linking our students with their peers abroad. Personal interaction with middle schoolers around the globe gives our Emily K scholars a chance to express themselves artistically while learning about other cultures.

All in all Fridays here are turning out to be really great days – and not just because the next day is Saturday!

Academics. Character. Leadership.

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