Saturday study sessions fostering focus, success

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Raise your hand if you’re A+ College Ready,” Diann Frucci asked.

Recalling this question years later, I still remember how badly I wanted to raise my hand—and how thrilled I was that the teacher next to me raised hers. While the terminology was unfamiliar to me, this teacher wants all of her students to emerge A+ College Ready.

At our very next break, I discovered that A+ College Ready was a grant awarded by the A+ Education Partnership—a non-profit, non-partisan Alabama Foundation describing itself as “the driver of real improvement for public education in Alabama.”

Soon after Pelham City Schools formed, we received the A+ College Ready grant which provides free professional development for teachers including outstanding materials. For students, the grant means more than they know. Many of the resources and ideas students encounter come to teachers initially through the A+ College Ready grant.

Another gift that A+ College Ready provides students is Saturday Study Sessions. Students receive this free, in-depth Saturday morning instruction reluctantly. Knowing that they’ll have a break with free food helps.

Students give the A+ College Ready Saturday Study Sessions rave reviews. More of my students attended in the spring than in the fall—at the insistence of both their teacher and their classmates.

“Because Saturday offers an extended time frame, students get a more cohesive overview of the subject,” reported Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (AP Lang) student Kathleen Kelley.

“Being able to concentrate on one specific topic for an extended and uninterrupted lesson allows us to focus on improving specific skills better than shorter periods over several days,” said Anna Carden. “Despite coming to school on Saturday being universally dreaded,” admitted Kelley, “AP Saturday Study Sessions are spectacularly helpful.”

As a talented guest instructor shares the perfect tool for remembering an important concept, I’m thrilled that when PHS students are asked if they’re A+ College Ready, they can proudly claim that distinction. Next Saturday morning, I’ll travel to another school where I’ll be a guest instructor—because I’m A+ College Ready also.