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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

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.

March 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Our Students | No comment

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!

March 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Our Organization | No comment

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

February 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Our Students | No comment

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!

February 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Our Organization | No comment

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!

June 25, 2013 at 9:53 am | Our Students | No comment

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.

June 6, 2013 at 10:57 am | Our Organization, Our Students | No comment

Mother’s Day Ball Highlights

The Emily K Center’s Mother’s Day Ball was a gathering few in attendance will soon forget. There was terrific food, dancing to a DJ, and an after-hours piano bar; but a moving speech by one of the senior Scholars who has benefited from the Center’s educational program was the topper of the night.

“I always knew that I wanted to be somebody in this world, someone who wants to do good things, but I had no idea how to get there, “said Gerardo Cruz-Garza, “The Emily K Center has guided me on my path toward success. Without them I could never have accomplished everything that I have and everything that I hope to in the future,” added Cruz-Garza, who will leave for college this fall having earned a full scholarship.

Four seniors in the Scholars to College program, with 23 college acceptances between them, mingled with guests at the Center’s annual fundraiser and then thanked the supporters for their contribution to the cause.

Coach Krzyzewski, the Center’s board chair, announced to the crowd of almost 400 that the high school program would be doubling in size, news that brought the guests to their feet.

“2012 was just an outstanding year for us at the Emily K Center. We had our first class of seniors graduate and go off to college. We could tell that we were experiencing one of those times when you just know things are going right and it’s time to act. We made the decision to take advantage of that special ‘moment’ by doubling the number of kids in the program. More great kids will now be able to go to college,” said Coach K.

The Ball raised more than $200,000, a record amount for the Center.

WRAL also covered the event for the evening news and Coach K and the Scholars shared the spotlight.  Check it out here.

May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am | Our Organization | No comment

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.

April 24, 2013 at 8:09 am | Our Organization, Our Students | No comment

Third Annual Mother’s Day Ball to Support the Emily K Center

Three years ago the Emily K Center launched its first public fundraising event, the Mother’s Day Ball. The Ball was designed as an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing and as a celebration of the role of mothers in the lives of their children, exemplified by Emily Krzyzewski, the Center’s namesake and the mother of EKC board chair and founder, Mike Krzyzewski. Three years have flown by and we reflect on the success of the first two Mother’s Day Balls, where the event grew from 200 to 400 guests, with a doubling of funds raised to support the educational programming of the students at the Center. This year’s Ball, which again will be held at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, will take place on Saturday evening, May 4. We will share food, music from a great DJ, enjoy a late night piano bar and reminisce about the terrific year our students have had on their journey toward college. Whether the students are in the 1st through 8th grade Pioneer Scholars program and are sharpening skills to be ready to tackle rigorous college prep work once they reach high school, or they’re in the Scholars to College high school program and are on the path toward those coveted college acceptances, we acknowledge their incredible, hard work. We gather as a community to ensure that the economic resources are available for these programs that will enable more and more Durham students to become part of the programs as the Emily K Center Builds Scholars and Changes Lives.

For more information on the Mother’s Day Ball and to purchase tickets to join Mike and Mickie Krzyzewwski, members of our board, and several of our star seniors for a night to remember go here.

April 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Our Organization | No comment

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