Phoenix Scholar Institute paves way for success

A pilot summer program will help middle schoolers become scholars July 29-Aug. 3 on the campus of UW-Green Bay.

A collaborative effort of the University, the Green Bay School District and community members, the Phoenix Scholar Institute for African American Girls is designed to help African American girls see themselves as scholars who will attend and be successful in college. Open to girls entering grades 7 and 8, the program focuses on African American cultural principles and values while emphasizing academic success. The institute will offer a variety of activities, from academic sessions to nutrition and dance, all centered around the principles of the Kwanzaa holiday, said Juliet Cole, associate director of the Institute for Learning Partnership at UW-Green Bay.

“It’s not just about the celebration,” Cole said. “It’s about the values. What we want (to convey) is an understanding of what Kwanzaa is all about — how it can shape the girls’ lives, and the lives of the community, positively.”

Those values include umoja/ujima (unity/collective responsibility), kujichagulia (self-determination) and kuumba (creativity). Each day of the residential institute will focus on a particular Kwanzaa principle through study, reflection and activity. The girls will create a multi-media project to reflect on what they’ve learned, and work on goal setting as the week concludes.

“We want them to know there’s no other option but college,” Cole said, adding that program staff will continue to follow up with attendees after the program ends.

The Phoenix Scholar Institute for African American Girls is similar to a comparable program for middle school boys, which just concluded its second year at UW-Green Bay. The idea for the girls’ program came from Chrystyna Mursky of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Shirley Paulson of the Green Bay School District, educators looking to close the achievement gap and increase the number of students of color in gifted/talented and Advanced Placement classes.

Both Phoenix Scholar programs are designed to complement existing programs such as Phuture Phoenix, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), DPI Pre-College, and federally funded TRIO programs. Thirteen girls are expected for this year’s pilot institute, most from Green Bay middle schools. Program organizers include Cole, Clara Simpson (community member), Angie Bauer (UW-Green Bay), Deirdre Radosevich (UW-Green Bay), Nathalie Neree (Green Bay School District), Marchelle Moten (Green Bay School District), Robyn Davis (Freedom House Ministries) and Toni Lardinois (Green Bay Education Association).

Click here for a story and photos from this year’s Phoenix Scholar Program for Boys.

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