High School Grads Brush Up on Math Skills During Summer Academy

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses  

Some Central Florida high school graduates are freshening up their math skills this summer during The Sum Up! Summer Math Academy. The academy — which began on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, and runs three days per week for three weeks through Thursday, July 15, 2021, at the Downtown, East and West Campuses  — is designed to support students who may need to refresh or strengthen their math skills before taking their first college-level Valencia College math course. Students who participate in all nine days of the program will receive a scholarship for a Valencia math course this fall, along with the course materials and a graphing calculator.

“We hope that their participation in the program will help them get off to a strong start in whichever front-door math course is aligned with their desired career and education goals,” explained Roberta Carew, professor, math.

The program focuses on a core set of math content that strengthens their prerequisite knowledge and skills.

“We spend a couple of hours each day in interactive learning sessions that cover a variety of intentionally selected math topics,” said Roberta. “Then students have an opportunity to practice those skills during the afternoon session. The goal is for all associated activities to be completed within the day’s agenda so that participants are not responsible outside of the hours of the Academy for additional work.”

Students also have an opportunity to learn more about each campus and the support and resources available to them as a Valencia student.

“We have integrated a number of co-curricular experiences and college success skills to help students cultivate a sense of belonging and personal connection with our campus and it’s faculty and staff,” Roberta added, explaining that the Math department partnered with Transitions, Student Affairs, Student Development, Campus Security, the Library, Student Support and a number of other areas of the College to offer these additional learning opportunities.

The program is intentionally designed as a face-to-face experience to help support students who may have faced challenges with online or virtual learning in this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants are not required to enroll and register as a Valencia College student, but a program goal is that their participation will further support those who already have a desire to attend the College and spark a desire in those who may remain undecided about their educational future.

“We are so grateful for the strong support and collaboration we have had in getting this program off the ground,” said Roberta. “Many thanks to Transitions Planning — our internal college partnerships have been invaluable.”

Additionally, Roberta added, “The Downtown Campus is especially grateful for our community partners who have worked hard to help recruit and support students who are great candidates for the program but may have found it difficult to take off of work in order to participate fully in the program. These include the Parramore Kidz Zone, UpliftED and the Parramore Education and Innovation District. We also appreciate the recruitment and advertising efforts of our partners at ELEVATE Orlando, the New Image Youth Center in Parramore, the University of Central Florida and Rollins TRiO programs and the Valencia College Horizon Scholars program.”

While the Downtown Campus is focusing on high schools in its neighboring community, East and West Campuses are also offering the Summer Math Academy to serve high schools in their campus footprints. All three cohorts are off to a successful start, and that is due in large part to the collaborative efforts of the three campus teams including: Dawn Chesire, administrative assistant, Steve Francis, professor, mathematics, Courtney Watson, instructional lab supervisor, Aditi Batra, instructional lab supervisor, Ning Christopher, manager, learning support services, Jennifer Nelson, instructional lab supervisor, Ryan Sandefur, professor, mathematics and Stephanie Luzoro, part-time faculty, mathematics. Roberta also expressed sincere appreciation for the leadership and support provided by Terri Graham, Eugene Jones, Keri Siler and Paul Blankenship.

“Without the dedication and determination exhibited by this team, we would not have been able to make this amazing opportunity a reality for students this summer. I am truly grateful!” says Roberta.

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