Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer’s Sizzling in Ward 8

A picture of the area before the renovation.
The lazy days of summer haven’t put a stop to Academy of Hope’s burgeoning programs in Ward 8. To the contrary, new students, new classrooms, and new curriculum have combined to fuel the growth of both the ABE-GED and computer classes as AoH enters its second year of operations in Ward 8.

The biggest change in Ward 8 this summer is the opening of two much-anticipated new classrooms at the main site in the Overlook Apartments at Wheeler and Valley Streets, S.E. Classes started in the new classrooms with the beginning of the summer session. The build-out of the classrooms was completed at a greatly-reduced cost in partnership with Yachad, the Jewish Housing and Community Development Corporation of Greater Washington, a non-profit organization that works with partners throughout the Washington area to revitalize neighborhoods and renovate the homes of lower-income residents. The new space includes a mural celebrating the expansion of Academy of Hope to Ward 8, donated by muralist Julie Dickerson. The new classrooms provide the opportunity to double the number of classes currently offered, increasing our ability to offer classes at multiple levels. And with classes no longer held in the original AoH space, that area serves as a new student lounge and tutoring center.

Summer has also brought to Ward 8 almost 20 new ABE-GED students who, in addition to their regular classes, have been enjoying a new social studies curriculum that will include three field trips centered on the Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown DC Heritage Trail. Students have already enjoyed a visit to and tour of the National Building Museum and are looking forward to trips to Ford’s Theatre and Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Computer class offerings in Ward 8 have been enriched this summer, too, with the addition of an IC3 class Monday through Thursday mornings at the Overlook. Students successfully completing this advanced computer class will earn a certificate that will enhance their employment opportunities. We’re excited that the class includes two students who started in AoH’s Ward 8 beginning computer class earlier this year.

As always, the focus of all this activity is student growth, and many Ward 8 students are closer to meeting their educational goals. Five students have passed the practice GED test and are expected to take the GED in the next few months. Under the leadership of Alyssa Ballentine, our Ward 8 The Workplace D.C. instructor, three additional students have made significant grade level gains in both reading and math. So, while “hazy, hot and humid” is the forecast for Washington, Ward 8’s forecast remains all A’s: advancement, achievement and attainment. “The final ‘A’ is amazed,” says Ward 8 program coordinator Daquanna Harrison. “I am simply amazed at the commitment of my staff. From the creation of a new curriculum, to the grade level gains, to running three different levels of computers in one session, my staff has truly put their all into making Ward 8 great. Thank you all so much.”

Ward 8 utilizing their new space.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

AoH Anacostia Community Service Event

AoH volunteers struggling with a tire found in the area.
Academy of Hope encourages all of our adult learners to become active members in their community. This is one of the first goals many learners set when joining the Academy of Hope community. On July 1st AoH students, volunteers and staff members volunteered with the Anacostia Watershed Society to assist with the maintenance, preservation, and conservation of the Anacostia River area. The students in attendance greatly enjoyed this experience and now want to participate in additional community efforts.
Florence finds some interesting trash.
AoH Student Leadership Representative, Florence Akurut said "I felt so happy because I had achieved my goal of keeping and saving the environment of Anacostia and the surrounding areas of the river." Florence is a very active Academy of Hope learner and has taken her position as one of our Student Leadership Representatives very seriously by leading school fundraisers for organizations such as the The Family Place.  After her experience  in Anacostia Florence is now searching for some to assist her with the monetary funds necessary to become a member of the Anacostia Watershed Society.

Kaye stays busy ensuring all is clean.
     Academy of Hope Ward 5 learner, Kaye Fraser also attended the trip to Anacostia and when asked why she thought it was important to keep our parks clean she said "it helps the environment, the air will be better to breath and children can have somewhere clean to play." Kaye is a very dedicated individual and after working overnight at a local hospital she still makes it to class on time every morning.
Community service presents an opportunity for AoH learners to get involved in their community and make a real difference. Feeling like you are a part of your community is very important and many of our learners had never traveled across the Anacostia River to Ward 8 prior to joining the AoH community.       

 We hope to continue increasing enrichment activities and opportunities for all of our adult learners.