Cal Lutheran Students To Assist At YMCA’s ‘Find My Genius’ Summer Achievement Program

March 25, 2019
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THOUSAND OAKS — For the second year, California Lutheran University graduate school students will be earning hands-on teaching experience at the Southeast Ventura County YMCA’s “Find My Genius,” a five-week achievement gap program for low- and moderate-income students who are not reading at grade level. The program is provided at no cost to participants.

Last summer, 60 Find My Genius scholars entering second, third and fourth grade took part in the program held at Conejo Elementary School in Thousand Oaks. Lessons focus on vocabulary, spelling, grammar, reading, writing and math. Find My Genius is designed to close the achievement gap frequently experienced by students over the summer.

In 2018, three Cal Lutheran Graduate School of Education (GSOE) students worked full time in the classroom and 15 others volunteered part time as academic camp counselors.

“The program, with the invaluable help by Cal Lutheran students, made a big impact on our participants,” says Isabel Pelayo, Find My Genius camp director and a Cal Lutheran GSOE alumna.

In 2018, the 60 scholars improved an average of 2 months in reading and 2.5 months in math. In addition, 91% of the parents reported their child gained confidence as a result of the program.

To build upon last year’s success, the program is expanding to accommodate 120 scholars this summer. Cal Lutheran not only provides student teachers, but also helps underwrite the cost of the program.

“This program provides important summer educational experiences for children in our community as well as meaningful opportunities for our graduate students to continue their development as future teachers,” said Michael R. Hillis, dean of the Cal Lutheran Graduate School of Education. “We are excited to be ongoing sponsors and look forward to how this program will grow in the future.”

Participants are nominated by their schools to attend this summer program. All participants will be notified by the YMCA by mid-May.

Besides the program’s learning component, there is also plenty of time for scholars to take part in outdoor activities, field trips, swimming and arts and crafts. “Emphasis is placed on character building, healthy eating habits and physical activity. It’s a well-rounded, positive experience that can set young students on the right path to success in school and life,” says Pelayo.

In addition to Cal Lutheran, the YMCA receives funding for Find My Genius from the Lennox Foundation, the Valentine Foundation, and multiple individual donors attending the YMCA’ annual Gala each September.

The Southeast Ventura County YMCA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building positive relationships, impacting lives and strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living programs and social responsibility. It serves the Conejo Valley, Simi Valley, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Moorpark through its three branches. www.sevymca.org

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