July 20, 2005
Walker Upper Elementary is using an innovative summer program to expand learning and enrichment among its high achieving African American students.
African American students at Walker Upper Elementary are enjoying a unique educational experience this summer. "It's very fun," said rising 6th Grader Chelsey Roberts. "I enjoy it better than the regular school year."
A lot of 5th and 6th graders in the program share Roberts' opinion. They were all selected to participate in the summer Walker Academy and the Generation Investing In The Future Program, also known as GIFT.
Both programs focus on providing challenging instruction in reading, math and history related to African Americans. The students in the programs are learning new names and are not limited to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, who they so often hear about.
"We've learned a lot about Booker T. Washington and we've learned a lot about Maggie Lena Walker and Marcus Garvey," said Rising 6th Grader Rackquan Jones.
The students appreciate being able to learn more about their heritage during the summer since the Standard of Learning Curriculum often lacks the history lessons they would most like to learn.
"Sometimes the kids have a disconnect, where they feel like the history is not necessarily their history," said 6th Grade History Teacher Christine Esposito. "This is all of their history, and the kids have really gotten interested in."
School officials involved with the program are working hard to keep these students on track for advanced placement classes in the future.
"I'm privileged to be here with the kids," stated Program Coordinator Atalaya Sergi. "I'm in awe of the teachers. They put together awesome lessons for the kids and really get them engaged in learning, and I think it just prepares the students for the coming year."
Esposito agreed and added that "it's always fun when you have kids who are willing to come to school in the middle of the summer and learn."
If you are interested in getting involved with the Walker Summer Programs next year, you can call Atalaya Sergi at (434) 245-2412.