Power Scholars Academy
Power Scholars Academy™ (PSA) is a partnership between the Fall River and New Bedford Public Schools, YMCA Southcoast, YUSA and BellXcell. PSA offers a unique and engaging approach to summer learning loss prevention for youth in grades K-8 in Fall River, and grades 2-8 in New Bedford. The goal of this program is to decrease the achievement gap and increase student opportunity while boosting self-confidence and engaging families in the education process.
The Power Scholars Academy™ program works to address summer learning loss for children living in under-resourced areas. The goal of PSA is to enhance overall youth development, academic performance, and graduation rates in our community.
The overall Program design includes:
- Strong partnerships between YMCAs, schools and community partners
- Serving scholars at schools with the Title I designation or with a significant number of families with limited financial resources
- Providing scholars access to a positive developmental experience through both an academic-focused program and enrichments that strengthen social-emotional and physical development
- Focusing on scholars in grades K-8th
- Maintaining a minimum 1:12 staff to scholar ratio for enrichment activities and 2:24 academics
The Power Scholars Academy™ program is modeled on the BellXcell summer program described below. Power Scholars Academy™ offers five weeks of half day academic instruction in conjunction with half day YMCA summer enrichment experiences. The program operates Monday through Friday for six and a half hours per day.
The following key program elements make up the experience:
DAILY ACTIVITIES / SCHEDULE
Students, called “scholars,” start the day with a nutritious breakfast and community time activity to develop leadership skills and strong friendships with fellow scholars and staff.
Certified teachers lead literacy instruction using a customized Scholastic curriculum. The curriculum focuses on the priority skills critical for student success: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. It provides teachers with highly specific instruction and explicit, consistent, easy-to-follow lessons. Teachers used STAR Enterprise Assessments, by Renaissance Learning, on a pre- and post-program basis. STAR assessments are built for measuring progress against Common Core standards.
Certified teachers lead math instruction using a customized curriculum developed by Scholastic. The curriculum focuses on foundational concepts to prepare students for the deep mathematical understandings of the Common Core State Standards and is designed as a supplemental program for grade 1-8 scholars. The curriculum blends conceptual understanding, problem-solving, and foundational skills in targeted intervention modules that get at the misconceptions that so often prevent student progress. Throughout the lessons, scholars engage in the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice as they build their conceptual understanding and critical thinking.
Nutrition and physical activity are vital to maintaining healthy minds and bodies. We make sure all our scholars eat a healthy lunch and spend approximately 30 minutes engaging in physical activity during recess.
Scholars rotate through enrichment opportunities during the afternoon. Themes typically include:
- Life and leadership development, such as character development, social and emotional learning, civic values, substance and violence prevention, and service-learning.
- Science, technology, engineering, and math enrichment courses that enable scholars to engage in these fields in fun, non-traditional ways.
- Health and fitness activities including a wide array of traditional and non-traditional subjects.
- Creative arts providing scholars opportunities to explore dance, art, writing, music, drama, and other artistic expressions.
- Additional activities are considered and included as determined through community interest.
In addition to the daily schedule described above, other Power Scholars Academy™ program elements include:
Friday afternoon trips expose scholars to the rich array of resources in and around their community and encourage experiential learning. Scholars may visit theatres, medical centers, zoos, museums, or historical sites.
Each program has at least one parent/family day per year, and parents are invited to participate in community time and field trips. Additionally, each program site strives to have staff available to families who are fluent in the language and culture of our Scholars and their families to facilitate deeper connections and higher family participation.
Power Scholars Academy™ focuses on academic instruction and remediation in literacy and mathematics. With the adoption and early implementation of the Common Core State Standards, BellXcell has expanded the curriculum to include new resources consistent with common core and to increase our focus on project-based learning and blended (technology) learning. The specific curricula (topics/units) used with scholars will be informed by the school and its efforts to implement the Common Core standards, as well as instructional focus areas, and the availability of computer and tablet devices to access the online curriculum.