Sunland Early Achievers Program
Submitted by Shanae Thomas
Community Based Connections kicked off the third year of their Early Achievers Program at Sunland Elementary School. The program, sponsored by United Way of Broward County, designed to focus on children, and families in the Sunland Park Community to reduce risk factors associated with the academic underachievement at early grade levels. The program provides creative programming and fun academically focused activities for students in grades K through second grade. The program staff is made of qualified educators who provide onsite afterschool tutorial assistance to ensure their performance is at or above grade level so they are prepared for the FCAT by the time they reach the third grade.
The Early Achievers program also focuses on parent engagement with the collaboration of OIC of Broward County. The goal of this component is to expose parents to strategies that encourage them to be their child’s first teacher, increase parents’ awareness of available resources while developing personal goals to strengthen the family.
Students entering the program at kindergarten level often have no knowledge of letter recognition; unable to spell their names, lack social skills and not able to communicate effectively. The Early Achievers Program works diligently to bridge the gap to academic success by providing daily assistance and support to classroom teachers during the school day, which is reinforced during the focus skills of the afterschool component. The Early Achievers Program Staff facilitate activities without imposing controls that limit student-learning opportunities. As a result of the continued partnership with the school, the program is able to differentiate instruction for all students enrolled.
Through collective data provided by school officials of Sunland Elementary, students en-rolled in the program have shown significant strides academically over their peers at the same academic levels.
“This program is an added value to the success of the students, and provides them with the opportunity of beating the odds and taking the school as a whole to the next level,” said Shanae Thomas, director of Programs, Community Based Connections, Inc.
The agency is prepared to take the program to the next level and works to assure that the program is not discontinued.