AP Students Celebrate Summer Learning

“What did you do on your summer vacation?” the teachers will ask students returning this Fall.

The answer from 75 Birmingham City and Jefferson County students will be, “I spent three fun-filled weeks preparing for AP math, English and science!”

The third annual Summer Advanced Placement Institute is a part of the statewide initiative CollegeFirst, through a joint partnership of Impact Alabama and A+ College Ready. It is sponsored by Wells Fargo and Maynard, Cooper & Gale P.C. in Birmingham.

Rising senior Morgan Smith was described as a “star” by Stephen Black, president and founder of Impact Alabama. On her experience in the summer program, she remarked, “I really feel better prepared for AP Calculus because of the time I’ve spent working with the mentors here this summer.”

Black said he loves to brag on Morgan. “She is an incredibly gifted student, who has participated on our citywide debate team. We recruited her at the age of 14.”

Another student who received her certificate of completion today along with the other 75 students, said, “I expected to come here and be really lost, but I was surprised. I’m not only better prepared for AP Chemistry but I had a lot of fun learning it!”

The summer program brings a rigorous curriculum to these hard-working students so they can get a head start on courses designed to help them not only enter college, but to excel at the college level.

“This partnership is for you,” said Mary Boehm, president of A+ College Ready (a division of A+ Education Partnership). “You are among the 300 students in Alabama getting this special summer opportunity, and we want you to know that our work and our lives are dedicated to making sure you are successful.”

Experienced AP instructors guided 24 college students from UAB, the University of Alabama and Samford University in mentoring students in advanced math, biology, chemistry, and literature.

The mentors reflected on the past three weeks stating how impressed they were to see the motivation in the students. One of the Biology mentors said, “It’s so incredible how they got up early every day during their summer vacation to come learn. I’m not sure I would’ve done that when I was in high school!”

More than traditional class work, the students worked through higher math concepts, and engaged in science labs to improve their content knowledge and understanding. They also dug deep into literary passages to analyze and improve their thinking and writing skills, which will better prepare them for the more advanced coursework in the coming school year.

One student commented that the teachers and mentors are “way out there. I like them a lot!”

Another exclaimed, “The mentor relationships are just invaluable. My mentors for the past two years that I’ve participated in this (summer institute) have really inspired me to become a pharmacist.”

CollegeFirst is a statewide initiative that provides summer enrichment for 225 AP students. The 70 college-student mentors who participate in CollegeFirst, through Impact Alabama’s service-learning initiative, are also enhancing their learning while leading the curriculum. The students are from six school systems in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville.

Click here to view a video report from Birmingham’s CBS affiliate.