Power Scholars

Every summer, kids lose a bit of the learning they achieved during the school year. And every summer, kids from disadvantaged homes lose their achievements at a greater rate than kids from moderate- and high-income homes.

This achievement gap builds year after year, making it difficult for disadvantaged kids to keep up, finish high school, go to college and achieve their greatest potential.

This year, it will be different.

For the first time ever, the YMCA of Central Kentucky, through a partnership with BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and Fayette County Public Schools, is offering the Power Scholars Academy™, a program designed to help young scholars achieve grade-level understanding in English and Mathematics.

Power Scholars Academy will be held at Booker T. Washington Academy Elementary School, 707 Howard St., Lexington. Scholars will be selected for the program by the school, with 120 rising first- through fifth-graders participating.

The Power Scholars Academy is designed to increase students’ academic success, boost self-confidence and engage families in the learning process. Although this is the first year the program will be offered in Lexington, it has shown impressive results in cities across the U.S. On average, students gained two months average grade equivalency in English and one and a half month’s equivalency in math during the course of the six-week program.

“When you consider that the average student from homes with limited financial resources loses about two months of grade equivalency every year, this is a significant achievement,” said Vice President of Youth Development Jessica Berry. Further, 92 percent of parents reported their children were more confident, had a better attitude toward school and were better able to learn because they participated in the program, Berry said.

The Power Scholars Academy is taught by certified teachers using the BELL program, with enrichment activities designed to address social, emotional and physical development. The program will operate Monday through Friday, with scholars meeting for a minimum of 6.5 hours a day. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. The Academy is offered free of charge.

Certified teachers lead instruction in both English and math using a customized Scholastic curriculum. The lessons focus on skills that are foundational and critical to student understanding and future success.

“The work that the YMCA is taking on in partnership with Fayette County Public Schools and BELL will give kids in our community the chance to be engaged and stay motivated with their academics throughout the summer,” said, 1st District Councilmember James Brown. “These children need these resources and extra support and I look forward to seeing the progress and growth of this new program,” Brown said.

The English curriculum focuses on reading, comprehension, critical thinking and writing. This is achieved through small and large group activities, book clubs, independent study and writing activities. Scholars develop writing skills: Idea, organization, choosing a voice, word selection, sentence fluency and conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation). The curriculum both challenges and engages scholars with themed materials providing continuity across all activities.

The mathematics curriculum, “Do the Math,” helps Scholars who have fallen behind catch up and keep up. Foundational concepts of mathematics are emphasized:

  • Number sense: Understanding what numbers are and their relationships to one another

  • Computation: A focus on basic skills of math, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals that can block student progress

  • Problem solving: Using basic computational skills to solve problems; developing the skills to understand and solve word problems

English and math instruction are supplemented by enrichment opportunities in the afternoon, with themes ranging from civic responsibility, leadership, character development, science and technology, health and fitness and the creative arts.

Every Friday, Power Scholars will experience first-hand the rich array of resources in and around Lexington, exposing them to new ideas and offering new experiences. Scholars may visit the theater, medical centers, zoos, museum and historical sites.

Much of the Power Scholar Academy is focused on helping kids succeed in school, but families are important, too. Engagement with moms, dads, grandparents and siblings occurs over the course of the six weeks, with an open house at the beginning of the Academy and an event mid-way through.