Category: 'Y' Written by Genea Webb
SHARING KNOWLEDGE—Thomas Johnson teaching a 10th grade class. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
PITTSBURGH--Faculty at The Neighborhood Academy is committed to educating inner-city students and putting them on the path to college and a successful career by breaking the cycle of generational poverty.
Located on the border of East Liberty and Stanton Heights on North Aiken Avenue, the school reaches that goal by providing college preparatory courses to their 89 students. The school's capacity is 100 to 110 students. The school began in 1993 as an innovative summer program for at-risk youth. Drawing upon her work with the Larimer Avenue Youth Club, a youth ministry that met urban youth in their own neighborhoods, Jodie Moore and Rev. Thomas Johnson designed the Neighborhood Academy Summer School and intensive, five-week skill building program for seventh through eleventh graders.
In response to the success of that program, the Neighborhood Academy opened as a full year school in September of 2001. It is fully accredited by the PA Association of Independent Schools and is a member of the Pittsburgh Consortium of Independent Schools.
"There was a need for college prep education for inner-city youth," said Sheila L. Rawlings, senior development officer at the Neighborhood Academy.
"There was a lack of support services that students uniquely needed to put them on the path to excel," she said.
The Neighborhood Academy provides students in grades 8-12 with small, intimate classes, three meals a day and an extended school day—which begins with worship services and includes season-based extra-curricular activities like dance, drumming, basketball, track and field, flag football—and concludes with evening study and dinner.
"Our students continue school in the summer so that they don't lose any ground academically and fall behind. Instead they are one step ahead," Rawlings said. "They spend about four weeks learning on college campuses. They spend three to four weeks on Duquesne University campus and one week at Bethany College and then during the final week they go on a college run, seeing about 9-10 colleges. By the time they graduate they have visited 60 colleges."
In addition, the school provides transportation and counseling services as well as support once the student enters college. Tuition for the school is income based.
The path to excellence for students at Neighborhood Academy was almost thwarted when residents of the community balked at the idea of putting a school there. Kids from about 15 Pittsburgh areas—including Penn Hills, South Side and Woodland Hills—make up Neighborhood Academy's student body, which is about 97 percent African-American.
"The community did know about the school ahead of time and all of the paper work had been done properly," Rawlings said. "There was a concern about the school bringing in students who could cause violence in the community, but there hasn't been any violence or problems. We have a wonderful relationship with the community. People in the community use our facility to take walks because it is very picturesque. We have eight acres of land and a state of-the-art school. We also lease our building for community activities. We are anchored in the community."
The Neighborhood Academy's girls basketball team won the Tri-county Christian League Championships in 2008, 2009 and 2011, while the boys basketball team earned the honor in 2009.
One hundred percent of the school's graduates go to college and 98 percent of the students have graduated from college and are working in their field. The other two percent is still attending college. The administration is working on collaborating with corporations to create paid internships for its students who are still enrolled at the Neighborhood Academy.
"When students graduate from college and have support services in college, our students can find jobs. That's the goal," Rawlings said. "We want to ensure a stable work history for our students and they need resources to be able to do that."
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 11:34
Category: 'Y' Written by Rebecca Nuttall - Courier Staff Writer
SENIORS—Senior members of AACAS, standing in back are: from left; Veronica Glaze and Sadik Roberts. Sitting in front, from left; Dani Huggins, Latia Tucker and Laura Brown. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
The Pittsburgh Public School District recently expanded its Centers for Advanced Studies program to provide more African-American students with an opportunity to take advantage of high level courses. For the first time ever, through the Talent Development Initiative, which was implemented district-wide for the 2012-2013 school year, the CAS program now includes non-gifted students who have been identified as talented.
The district’s CAS courses are high-level, accelerated courses that have an additional .5 weight to account for the increased difficulty of the curriculum. In order to participate, students must demonstrate high achievement, meet specific course requirements and demonstrate that they can do the work and are motivated to meet the challenge of CAS courses.
“It’s increased the number of African-American students in these classes,” said Wayne Walters, principal of Obama Academy. “They are standing on the shoulders of others and the hope is that others will stand on their shoulders so that there is a greater representation of African-American students in these classes.”
Walters sponsors the African-American CAS Executive Committee aimed at aiding students in the CAS program. On April 26, the organization held its annual symposium, where there was an increase in student participants because of the recent expansion of the CAS program.
“A study was done of talented people and they realized that some of the most talented people are under achievers,” said Malcolm Thomas, founder of ONE Nation Education and Leadership Training, the event’s keynote speaker. “Talent is not enough. The greatest gift you have is your will. The thing that’s going to make you successful is, are you willing to do the work.”
CAS courses move quickly, have higher level textbooks and students must often work independently. Despite the fact students participating have been identified as gifted or talented, there are still disparities between Black and White students.
“One of the biggest issues this year is eliminating the disparities, and we’re talking about gifted White students vs. gifted Black students,” said Mercedes Howze, an activities coordinator, project assistant and certified tutor with PPS who volunteers for AACAS. “We just try to give the kids the tools to succeed academically and socially. They’re often not exposed to the same resources as their White counterparts.”
One of the ways AACAS aids Black students in excelling is to provide them with inspiration, exposure, support and advocacy. They also provide students with a well-rounded education that includes studies in African-American culture.
“It’s led me to have a more broad outlook on African-American culture and the reasons we are the way we are, but also what we can do to surpass that,” said Sadik Roberts, president of the AACAS executive committee which is run by students. “In our books everything is based on White culture and we sometimes can’t relate to it.”
(For more information on the CAS program visit http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 11:17
Category: 'Y' Written by CNN
Students danced for hours to music provided by Pete's Mobile DJ Service from Houston DJ Pete Armendariz read about the integrated prom on CNN.com and offered up his services at no cost. (CNN Photo/Brandon Ancil)
by Jamie Gumbrecht
WILCOX COUNTY, Georgia (CNN) -- It's a springtime tradition in this stretch of the magnolia midlands for crowds to gather at high school students' proms. They'll cheer for teens in tuxedos and gowns while an announcer reads what the students will do once they leave this pecan grove skyline.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 16:00
Category: 'Y' Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
(Real Times News Service)--The Bronner Sisters, identical twins Kirstie and Kristie Bronner, have been named co-valedictorians for the Spelman College Class of 2013. With a 4.0 GPA, the Bronners are the first twins to receive the designation in the history of Spelman.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 11:23
Category: 'Y' Written by Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks at Ohio State University's spring commencement ceremony May 5, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
by Josh Lederman
Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A year to the day after kicking off his victorious re-election campaign on this college campus, President Barack Obama returned to Ohio State University and told graduates that only through vigorous participation in their democracy can they right an ill-functioning government and break through relentless cynicism about the nation's future.
Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2013 16:34
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