Society of Mary's Reach for Excellence Continues to Support Students and Their Families
Like all educational institutions, the Society of Mary's Reach for Excellence (housed on the Marist School campus) has pivoted to continue providing service during COVID-19.
The need for academic and social engagement has never been greater, especially for students from families who lack financial resources and attend school in low-income neighborhoods. Reach for Excellence has remained committed to providing an academic enrichment program despite the challenges.
Reach teachers are certified educators, serving in public and private schools throughout the metro Atlanta area. The program benefited from their experience with online learning at the onset of school closures in March. They rose to the challenge and were able to smoothly launch an organized online program for Reach for Excellence’s summer session beginning in June.
Even though the program couldn’t meet in classrooms, summer classes were full of meaningful learning opportunities. Teachers took students on over 10 virtual field trips to museums and important cultural sites around the world. Ms. Cheffen’s Girl Talk group met each week to give students a healthy space to process their thoughts and emotions in response to the pandemic and social unrest. Mr. Michaud’s Coding and STEAM classes remained as rigorous as ever, taking on new relevance in an all-digital learning environment. Students were still able to work with each other in teams, even though they were physically apart. Yonas, a first-year Reach student, shared that “even though it was online, it was still fun.” Teachers took advantage of the ubiquitous use of videoconferencing to host several guest speakers. Students met online with attorneys, financial consultants, language specialists, and more.
Reach for Excellence also recognized the increased financial burden COVID-19 has brought to the families they serve. Staff worked diligently to ensure that every child had access to a device adequate for livestreamed online learning. The program provided Chromebooks for students who needed them. Twice over the summer, Reach for Excellence invited families to the Marist School campus for a Reach Cares Drive-by, where they provided families with Walmart gift cards to show them their love and support.
Reach scholars persisted through it all. Attendance in online classes remained strong. On August 1, 29 rising 9th grade students graduated from the three-year program. These tenacious young people are now enrolled in prestigious college-preparatory programs throughout Atlanta, including Marist School, Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, St. Pius X Catholic High School, and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School.
Reach for Excellence is continuing to provide programming for their scheduled 16 Saturday sessions throughout the school year in a hybrid classroom format. The teachers and staff remain committed to providing a tuition-free academic and leadership program to put talented young people from families with limited resources on a path to success in high school and beyond. For more information about this program, visit reachforexcellence.org.
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3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30319-1899 (770) 457-7201