During the summer of 2021 the YMCA of Central Virginia partnered with Lynchburg City Schools to provide Power Scholars Academy, a five-week summer learning program that combines academic instruction with fun, hands-on enrichment activities. This YMCA of Central Virginia program, which just completed its seventh year, offers a holistic learning experience blended academics with enrichment, and social-emotional skill development, which is key to the success of this program. The program helps students gain new academic skills and prepare to return to school in the fall, ready to excel.
Lynchburg City Schools identified 727 pre-k through 5th-grade students as being behind in reading and math. This deficiency qualified them for the Power Scholars Academy, which students participate in at no charge to their families. The goal was to gain at least one month in reading and math for every student. Students typically lose 2- 6 months of learning in the summer; the impact of Covid-19 increased those losses tremendously. However, due to the holistic and comprehensive curriculum and committed certified teachers and staff, Lynchburg City School students grew three months in reading and math through 57 hours of instruction, exceeding expectations set for the program.
Rebecca White, YMCA of Central Virginia Association Director of Achievement Gap Programs is a former Lynchburg City School and Bedford County School teacher. White understands the adverse outcomes that are a result of students lagging in core subjects such as reading and math, "We are so pleased that our Power Scholars students made such great gains. Growth in literacy and math skills are key indicators of student success." White continued, "These students exited the program with increased confidence in learning and a bridge to the upcoming new school year."
The program offered students learning opportunities in literacy and math in the morning hours while the afternoons were filled with enrichment that included social-emotional learning, STEAM activities, physical fitness, virtual field trips, and arts.
Ethel Reeves, Lynchburg City School Director of Equity and Community Relations, shared more on the impact of the program, "The YMCA Power Scholars program made a significant impact on the academic success of our students. The program uses evidence-based interventions to impact academics and social-emotional learning. The growth that our students experienced with the assistance of this program is growth that we celebrate and desire to continue." Reeves continued, "As we make plans for summer 2022, Lynchburg City Schools and the YMCA of Central Virginia intend to expand the program to include more elementary students and may pilot a program for middle school students. Lynchburg City Schools appreciates the partnership with the YMCA of Central Virginia and looks forward to future opportunities to collaborate."