Madeworthy Article 2020

About Academy 4

Academy 4 provides a mentor for every 4th grader in the economically disadvantaged schools we serve by connecting churches and the community to schools. We encourage 4th graders to become leaders in school and beyond. Our volunteers serve together once a month for 90 minutes to mentor the 4th graders in leadership. This year we have more than 1,100 volunteers. They express love and care and provide the students with a positive relationship with a dependable adult.

Academy 4 is now thriving in 16 schools in Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Through encouraging mentor relationships and our leadership curriculum, we encourage and challenge at-risk, economically disadvantaged children to be leaders, and positively impact the course of their lives. In addition to the mentoring, we provide EVERY4thgrader two enrichment activities in the areas of STEM, music, art, cooking, or sports.

What we are doing?

Through our strategic mentoring program, Academy 4 continues to have a positive effect on student academic engagement, mental and physical health, and social/emotional development.

Mentorship is a proven strategic and effective intervention that helps builds resilience in the face of childhood trauma by developing children socially and emotionally. Studies show that youth mentoring programs help increase self-confidence, independence, self-sustainability, and optimism about the future, and positively affect at risk-related behaviors like drug and alcohol use, crime, truancy, and high school dropout.

Through encouraging mentor relationships, we:

•Teach 4th graders the importance of being a leader and work with them to develop foundational leadership traits and characteristics.  
•Provide 4thgraders a voice by providing a caring adult who will listen and help them feel valued and loved.
•Improve school and student morale by creating an atmosphere where every 4th grader is included and looks forward to engaging with their mentors.
•Expand possibilities for students and instill hope, while shaping character and values at a critical developmental age, when morals and values are forming.

How we are doing it: 2020-2021 Online Mentoring Model

We have reengineered Academy4 to be delivered entirely online this school year using Zoom.

Every 4th grader participates online this year in Academy 4 one Friday a month. Each A4 Friday is comprised of these sessions (all carried out online): Mentor Training, Leaders Assembly, Mentoring, Closing Assembly, and Spark Clubs.

•Mentor Training occurs before each session to brief mentors on goals for the session and remind mentors of child safety policies.
•LEADERS Assembly begins when a live emcee warmly welcomes everyone, introduces the monthly leadership characteristic (Listen, Encourage, Attitude, Develop, Example, Respect, or Serve). This introduction is followed by a videotaped conversation about the leadership trait of the day with Rudy, everyone’s favorite 4th grader, who happens to be a puppet.
•Mentoring sessions bring students and mentors together to work through our LEADERS curriculum, which has been adapted for online connection.
•The Closing brings all mentors and students back together where they are greeted again by the emcee and watch the Leadership Challenge video for the month.
•Spark Clubs, led by volunteers, are produced as videos that provide students with opportunities to explore extra-curricular activities they may not otherwise get to experience.

Resilience

Many of our 4th graders and their families are hardest hit by the impacts of this pandemic. We believe connecting students to their mentors and the leadership traits in our evidence-based curriculum is critical to meeting the urgent needs of many of our 4th graders and their families.

We have worked with our church and school partners to assist in providing everything from pencil sharpeners, books, technology assistance, teacher care packages, pre-cooked meals, groceries, and prayers. We also received support from church and community partners to purchase 372 laptops and 965 headphones to donate to partner elementary schools for classrooms and students in need.

“More than ever, the relationships built through Academy 4 are giving 4thgraders the resilience to respond to the trauma and stress brought into their daily lives by the pandemic and racial inequity and tension in our world.”  --John Shearer, Executive Director, Academy 4

Schools We Serve –Tarrant County

A list of schools served in Tarrant County during the 2020-2021 school year is below:
•Clarke Elementary
•De Zavala Elementary
•Leadership Academy at Como
•Manuel Jara Elementary
•Mullendore Elementary
•Newman IAG
•Donna Park Elementary
•Daggett Elementary
•Rivertree Academy
•Westcliff Elementary
•Western Hills Elementary
•West Handley Elementary

All of our schools are Title 1 schools with an average poverty rate of 87%.
Source: Texas Education Agency, 2016-2017 School Report Card, School, and Student Information. https://rptsvr1.tea.texas.gov/perfreport/src/2017/campus.srch.html

Social Media Handles
Academy 4 Website: www.academy4.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/texasacademy4
Instagram: @academy_4
Twitter: @academy_4
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