My Scholar

Meet Our Scholar: Jake

Meet Our Scholar: Jake 2576 1534 Angelique McDonald

Age: 4
Favorite Book: Spiderman

Jake has a contagious smile that charms everyone he meets. He is very active in play and loves to run, jump, and dance around! He has a sense of humor that is razor sharp and a grin that tells you that he knows much more than he lets on. He loves playing soccer, cars, Simon says, and learning through games.

At the most recent home visit, the focus was on learning colors. “Jake loved the games and the educational activities,” Suzie, their Family Educator recalls. Martinah, Jake’s mother, is deeply involved in the process of preparing him for school. She says that they are very hopeful that Jake will one day go to University. 

“His Dad thinks that he will be a doctor,” says Martinah. “He is always playing with a stethoscope.”

Jake’s family is very active in Way to Grow and participates in many of the programs offered. At a weekly Play to Grow group, Jake learns how to share, take turns, and listen in a classroom setting. His family also enjoys Family Engagement Nights, where Jake learns math and reading skills through playing board games. 

Jake’s family immigrated to the United States from Liberia and when they arrived, they knew no one from outside of their community. Now they are more involved in their neighborhood and feel confident that Jake is on a path to do well in preschool and beyond. Jake’s progress has made Martinah and Sien very proud and they are very excited to see what the future holds!

Meet Our Scholar Salma

Meet Our Scholar: Salma

Meet Our Scholar: Salma 618 368 Ken Story

Age: 5
Grade: Kindergarten
Favorite Book: I Want My Hat Back

Though small in stature, Salma brings a huge personality everywhere she goes. “Whenever Salma walked into class, she always exuded the most confidence I had ever seen in a four year old,” says Jack, her former teacher at Way to Grow’s P.A.L.S. preschool. Despite excelling academically, Salma struggled to adjust to the other kids in her preschool class. “She really just wanted to be around other adults,” Jack recalls. It was by participating in classroom tasks and activities that Salma finally found her place among her peers.

Salma’s willingness to help her classmates channeled her commanding personality into a strong, natural classroom leader. 

Shamsa and Ali, Salma’s parents, are very proactive in their children’s education. Having been with Way to Grow for a number of years, Shamsa affirms that educating a family takes a village. “Strong community and learning environments for all help shape our children,” she states. That’s where Way to Grow and P.A.L.S. came in.

“My favorite Way to Grow memory is funny,” Shamsa remembers. “Salma and I had to have a conversation about how much she was talking. We told her that she could come off as too talkative, and that she needed to give others the opportunity to speak. She looked up at us and said, ‘No Mommy, it’s okay. I won best speaker at school, so it is okay if I talk.’”

Curious and adventurous, Salma was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up and she immediately responded, “A photographer!” When asked why, she replied, “Because I really like pictures, and I know I’m going to be good at it!” With that kind of confidence and drive, we know Salma is going to go far, both as a student and a leader.

Meet the Scholar Wicahpi

Meet our Scholar: Wicahpi

Meet our Scholar: Wicahpi 618 368 Ken Story

Age: 7
Grade: 1st
Favorite Book: Uncover A Shark

While culture resides in the souls and hearts of its people, when it is infused into one’s education it can create beautiful experiences and brighter futures. Wicahpi (Woe – Chah – Pi), otherwise known as Choppy, is a great example that at a young age one can demonstrate an excellent balance of understanding their roots, engaging in education, and creating learning environments of inclusion.

Continually performing at or above grade level in all of his subjects, learning was never an issue for Wicahpi.  Rather, his issues revolved around his self-confidence. “Having the social skills and and the ability to express himself were his struggles,” says his great aunt and caregiver Binesikwe. “Choppy had all the tools and resources he needed within him to succeed in school.  He just needed a push in confidence and positive affirmations to empower his spirit into the student he is today, and Way to Grow was a big part of that.”

Binesikwe credits Way to Grow, and specifically their Family Educator Alison, on making Native American culture an important part of his educational experience. “It makes it more personal and special that Choppy is learning through an Indigenous lens,” she says.  “At seven, he has not only recognized how important his culture is, but he has taken a proactive interest in participating and helping others learn as well.  Way to Grow has helped bolster the cultural values within his learning by having a Native American Family Educator like Alison who knows firsthand how important it is.”

Described as intelligent, social, and witty, Wicahpi has no problem sharing what he has learned through a fun-spirited approach, but he also shares the stage with his classmates because he is very interested in learning from them as well. “He looks for opportunities to absorb information. It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or another child. If he’s got something he can show you and you’ve got something you can show him, he is present and engaged,” says his Way to Grow Family Educator Alison.

We know that Wicahpi will be one to watch in the future, because it is ingrained in his spirit and genes.  He was named after his great uncle Wichahpi Ohitika which means “Brave Star” in Lakota.  So with an open-mind, new-found confidence, and a willing curiosity to understand the communities and world around him – we cannot wait to see how brightly this star will shine!

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Jacqueline is a bright spirited kindergartner with glowing dark skin and a vibrant smile bound to melt your heart. When Jacqueline started school this fall, she struggled knowing that she did not know how to write. When her Family Educator visited Jacqueline this past September, Jacqueline held up a piece of jumbo-ruled paper. With chicken scratches going every which way, Jacqueline’s letters were far from following the dashes between the lines.

Jacqueline grew visibly discouraged. She tossed her pencil aside and hung her heavy head. Her Family Educator was along for the ride. “It’s okay; I’ll be here every step of the way! We will work on this together,” Collette assured.

You see, Collette has seen Jacqueline grow over the years. She knew she could do it! Jacqueline had already come a long way. With her big sister, Grace, Jacqueline had joined Way to Grow following their parents’ big move from Togo, Africa. Her family, seeking help navigating their futures in their new, but foreign land, made their way to Way to Grow. They have been with us ever since.

Collette just had to convince Jacqueline herself that she could achieve all she set her mind to. With that, the fearless duo set off! “We practiced, practiced, practiced! Each and every home visit, we wrote sight words, names.. all sorts of stuff. When I went back to visit after winter break, Jacqueline could hardly wait to show me a recent assignment.”

Because of Collette’s encouragement, and of course Jacqueline’s hard work and support of her parents, the difference was night and day! Jacqueline beamed with pride as she pointed to her work, “Look Mrs. Collette! Look at my new handwriting!”

Now she is ready for success in school in every way!

Making a Difference

Making a Difference 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

JaquelineMeet Jacqueline.  We hope to make Jacqueline’s holiday brighter by raising $2,500; enough to cover one full year of home visits and comprehensive programming with Way to Grow.  Jacqueline’s parents are from Togo, a small, tropical sub-Saharan country in West Africa. Edoh, Jacqueline’s mother has a goal for her children that many of us share. “Our educational goal for our daughter,” she says, “is that she will choose a career that makes her happy.” Jacqueline beams as she tells us, “I want to be a doctor so I can check my mom’s heart, teeth, ears, and mouth to be sure she is healthy.”

Jacqueline passed the school readiness assessment this past spring joining the 88% of Way to Grow children deemed ready for kindergarten! She participated in our Early Learning graduation ceremony this summer, lighting up her white cap and gown! Now in kindergarten, she is very excited to finally attend the same school as her big sister, Grace.  Grace has told Jacqueline so many fun and exciting stories about Bancroft Community School that she could hardly wait for it to begin this fall!

Jacqueline’s parents tell us they love Way to Grow for, “The way they teach. They come into my home and educate the whole family. They are flexible and are available to come when I am not at work, even if that is a Saturday morning.”  Sponsor Jacqueline as part of our My Scholar initiative this holiday season, and give one child the one gift that can never be taken back.

We cannot thank you enough for your support .
Together, we will make a difference!

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