MAY 2014 HEROES Academy visited Cedarbrook K-8 Center in Plainfield, NJ to aide administration in developing individualized programs for economically disadvantaged gifted students.
Beatrice Adewole, Social Worker at Plainfield’s Cedarbrook K-8 Center, contacted Rita Voit, founder of the HEROES Academy, in April 2014 with an interest in the programming HEROES offers for eligible students (based on HEROES criteria).
Adewole says, “My motivation was to find an entity that already exists to help garner support for these students. I was looking for an organization with experience and research behind them to help identify students in our school who could benefit from acceleration and/or other enrichment. I was poking around on the Internet to find what places in NJ specifically target these kids (students whose performance strongly suggests as gifted and talented) and I found HEROES Academy. After attending a HEREOS Academy informational seminar, and speaking with the stu
dents’ parents, I was even more convinced that a partnership between Cedarbrook K-8 Center and HEROES Academy could be fulfilling for both entities.”
HEROES Academy agreed to waive the testing fee and visit the school to administer the MAP test, an online-based test by the NWEA to these selected students. On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 HEROES Academy began a three-day process of testing these students. Students’ MAP scores have in fact confirmed the “gifted” talent of the students identified, and thereby providing impetus to develop a program to support the unique needs of these students as well as explore the vast range of possible ways to support the G & T population in general. The Cedarbrook K-8 Center administration and parents alike are thankful for the data that HEROES provided, and excited about future opportunities.
The ultimate goal is to solidify a program to support these students to get educational experience to the “next level.” HEROES Academy’s involvement will be critical to help the school develop an individualized education plan to hone in on strengths and adequately educate them.
When Voit arrived Tuesday afternoon, the students were enthusiastic. Voit says, “I am very impressed by how enthusiastic these kids are and how much they are able to accomplish with very limited resources. Many of the kids we have at HEROES are provided with access to private tutors and special programming. These kids, without all of that were performing extraordinarily well, way above their grade level.”
Voit explained the students’ scores to their parents. The follow up discussion focused on the respective MAP test scores, and more importantly, what the scores suggest about the students’ capacity for learning at higher grade levels maintained the enthusiasm and encouragement.
Of the four subject areas tested, the reading score also provides their Lexile scores. Lexile scores are useful to expand their reading level, by enabling a student to match their reading with their grade reading level, regardless of their age and current grade. Voit recommends students and parents to utilize this measure when picking out students’ summer reading. HEROES Academy then sought out to provide these students with books for their summer reading.
Voit says, “I feel we have a moral responsibility to help these students access programs that are going to challenge them and help them to develop their academic gifts.”
HEROES Academy began to prepare a social campaign to have books donated to the school for these students to borrow. As the idea was just beginning to seed Voit came across the Bridge of Books Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides gently used and new books to underprivileged and at-risk children throughout NJ.
Voit contacted Founder and Executive Director, Abigail Daly. The response was incredible, Daly was enthusiastic to help these students out.
Adewole says, “Another positive outcome of our schools outreach to HEROES was linkage to the Bridge of Books Foundation. This donation will help to ensure that our students have the opportunity to indulge in quality literature matched to their reading level, according to their Lexile scores, over the summer.