Rising Star Academy

“Until recently, racial and ethnic achievement disparities in elite suburban school districts were seldom discussed in public. Schools took pride, as they still do, in the numbers of graduates matriculating to prestigious universities.”

Dr. Ronald Ferguson, Harvard University

Valerie Geiler, Facilitator, The Rising Star Academy

Patricia Hobson,Candlewood Middle School's Coordinator

Angelica COssell, West Hollow Middle School's Coordinator

The Rising Star Academy, began in 2004, recognizes a core group of ethnically diverse middle school students who are rising stars and who have formed a community of achievers. The Academy is meant to address and remove achievement disparities, in particular, focusing on Honors and Advanced Placement participation and success and overall academic success and school community involvement. Topics encompassed by the program included personal responsibility, leadership qualities and self-confidence. Students share with one another their thoughts about success and the obstacles that may arise in the path of success. They practice effective listening strategies, develop a personal scrapbook and set goals for the upcoming year. Teachers and mentors are paired with students in order to form an allegiance of support and friendship that would continue throughout the middle school years following the experience. Perhaps the most interesting finding of Dr. Ferguson’s work is the distinctive importance of teacher encouragement as a reported source of motivation. The special importance of encouragement highlights the likely importance of strong teacher – student relationships in affecting achievement at the middle school level and beyond. Also highlighting the importance of trying to understand how students experience school. This is addressed by the academy’s strong focus on connections not only to peers but to faculty.

A review of rising star alumni who have completed high school found that they had an overall GPA of 88; an average of 91 on the English-Language Arts Regents Examination; an average of 92 on the Algebra Regents Examination and an average of 90 on the Biology Regents Examination. In addition, over 94% of the students had participated in Honors and/or Advanced Placement courses.

Each summer The Rising Star Academy is pleased to welcome a new cohort of 6th graders to participate in the summer academy and continue the tradition of excellence!

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