Jane Boyd Achievement Academy Crucial Summer Academic Child Care for Families

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Max Atkins, 8, uses a sweeping net to catch bugs and other insects in a prairie grass Wednesday during a Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer school field trip to the Indian Creek Nature Center in Southeast east of Cedar Rapids. The academy, with a 20-year history of summer school, has 85 students from kindergarten to grade 5 in the program that supports the socio-emotional needs of students, while focusing on academics and recreational opportunities. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Rosi Hartmann, 8, uses a sweeping net to catch bugs and other insects in a prairie grass Wednesday during a Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer school field trip to the Indian Creek Nature Center in Southeast east of Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Reyma Jeffers, 7, searches through a sweeping net for bugs and other insects she managed to catch on Wednesday during a Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer school field trip to the Indian Creek Nature Center in Southeast east of Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Max Atkins (second from left), 8, puts a little frog in the cap of George Brighton (right), 7, so others, including Jazmin Green (left), 8, and Jordyn Culp, 8 years old, can see it better. Wednesday during a nature hike during a Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer field trip to the Indian Creek Nature Center in southeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Indian Creek Nature Center intern Zelda Siegel, right, shows students in the Jane Boyd Achievement Academy’s summer school program on Wednesday how to weave a rope from prairie grass during a nature hike at the center in southeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Seven-year-old George Brighton leads a nature hike Wednesday during a Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer school field trip to the Indian Creek Nature Center in southeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Indian Creek Nature Center intern Zelda Siegel helps 7-year-old George Brighton braid rope from prairie grass during a nature hike by the Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer school program at the center in southeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Zelda Siegel, left, intern at the Indian Creek Nature Center. helps 7-year-old George Brighton weave a rope from prairie grass during a nature hike by Jane Boyd Achievement Academy’s summer school program in the Cedar Rapids Southeast Center. The academy has 85 students from kindergarten through 5th grade in the program which supports students’ socio-emotional needs, while focusing on academics and fun recreational opportunities. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Zelda Siegel, left, intern at the Indian Creek Nature Center. helps Jazmin Green, center, 8, put a thumbworm on her hand on Wednesday as students from the Jane Boyd Achievement Academy summer program use sweep nets to collect bugs and other insects in a prairie in the center of southeast Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Imani Perdomo, a rising fourth-grade student at Johnson STEAM Academy, is spending the summer learning and exploring her community at the Achievement Academy at the Jane Boyd Community House.

Imani, 8, has been attending the summer program since she was in kindergarten to care for her children and to help her prepare academically and socio-emotionally for the upcoming school year. Some of her favorite activities at Achievement Academy are math lessons, crafts, reading and writing mystery stories, and baking snacks like graham crackers frosted with blue frosting, topped with Goldfish crackers and nuggets to look like the ocean.

Imani is one of approximately 85 children in kindergarten through fifth grade from the Cedar Rapids Community School District who participate in the 10-week summer school program for children from high-risk communities. Families apply to join the program, which is costed on a sliding scale based on income. Public child care assistance, which is available for children of income-eligible parents who miss part of the day due to employment or attending school or vocational training, is also accepted. Jane Boyd Community House manager Megan Isenberg said families pay an average of $25 a week for their child to participate.

The program is expanding this summer by adding a certified teacher, Shaylee Maas, to fill reading and math gaps after decades of teaching summer students in Cedar Rapids.

A certified teacher helps tailor direct instruction to specific student needs, Isenberg said. Other Achievement Academy teachers are there to gain experience in summer employment while pursuing degrees in teaching or social work, Isenberg said.

In May, the Cedar Rapids School Board approved a summer program deal with Jane Boyd, providing $26,560 for the program and to help hire a certified teacher.

Maas said there were “big gaps” missing in children’s learning, something she particularly noticed while teaching second grade in the Linn-Mar Community School District. Her students during the 2021-2022 school year were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and missed half of that school year. Their first school year was a mix of virtual and in-person learning.

Still, Maas believes today’s students can get back on track and works with them to learn foundational skills like letter recognition with kindergartens and phonics.

“Repetition is key – keep working with them and they will grow,” she said. “They fill those gaps very quickly.”

Achievement Academy students over the years:

  • 97% say they have a positive relationship with an adult they trust outside of their family;
  • 44% live at or below the federal poverty line;
  • 41% come from single-parent families;
  • 94% say they have a positive self-image;
  • and 55 percent improve their reading skills.

Jane Boyd also has staff who work at Grant Elementary and Johnson STEAM to help families access mental health services and basic needs, such as food, toiletries and housing, and are available during the summer. at the Achievement Academy.

Megan Brown, Director of the Jane Boyd Program, has worked with students in the Cedar Rapids District for nearly a decade. Brown is a “consistent adult that kids can trust,” Isenberg said.

Brown always knew she wanted to help people – and tried being a nurse – before realizing it was the connection with children where she felt she had the most impact.

Many of the children who come to Jane Boyd have similar backgrounds to what Brown experienced growing up, she says. Brown described a lackluster upbringing in Jamaica, where she was born and raised in a single-parent family.

Being in the schools helps Brown see where the students are emotionally and how it affects them academically.

Achievement Academy is fun and games too, with students going on trips to community pools, wading pools, learning about sports, gardening with Iowa State University Extension, and even taking a trip to Indian Creek. Nature Center this week.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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