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Programs and Faculty at UWM Encourage Black Families and Students to get Excited About Higher Education

MILWAUKEE COURIER — University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee administrators Victoria Pryor and April Holland joined Faithe Colas to talk about university programs that encourage black families and students to get motivated about college.

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By Rhea Riley

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee administrators Victoria Pryor and April Holland joined Faithe Colas to talk about university programs that encourage black families and students to get motivated about college.

“What I tell students is that you did the job of getting in to UWM, so my job is to retain you, support you and give you the tools and resources in order for you to graduate,” said Pryor.

Pryor is the student services program manager for the Black Cultural Center at UWM. She focuses on making sure new students feel welcomed and supported while studying at UWM. This includes encouraging students to bring their families for welcome week, introducing students to other campus organizations, and offering support services to create communities like the “Sisters Like Me Program.”

The program is held during black history month and focuses on bringing together African American women who are students, faculty and community members to talk about leadership and self-care.

“Many of us have a lot of our plates, various challenges and obstacles so we want to build that support system early,” said Pryor. “As they go through their journey that they know that we are here for them.”

Pryor also helps students throughout their education taking part in The Panther Foundation for Success and Internship Development. The spring internship offers students the opportunity to work with major business corporations and partners of UWM. These partnerships include, Harley Davidson, Man Power, Northwestern Mutual and many more.

For many black Milwaukee families, the opportunity for this type of internship is already lost due to the lack of conversation about college.

However, Executive Director of UWM’s Trio and Precollege Programs, Holland works to change that narrative.

“Education empowers our communities,” said Holland. “As an educator, there is so much work that we could do better. Work that we could do to inspire the future generations to effect change.”

Holland was introduced to the idea of college on her 8th birthday during a conversation with her grandmother. Holland later went to college as a first-generation student and even managed to graduate debt free.

Through the trio and precollege program, Holland oversees 12 different programs which are designed to encourage middle school, high school, veterans and adults to pursue a college education.

Each program is fit to provide educational access and services to increase the number of students from various economically disadvantaged backgrounds and ultimately complete a program of post-secondary education.

According to Holland, the program receives 5,000 participants each year, with one of its most notable programs being the Upward Bound program: a program that allows youth to visit various college campuses to learn more about higher education. They also offer this type of program to veterans, previously having over 120 participate in the program.

Another program they offer is Parents Achieving Goals through Education, P.A.G.E This program helps parents navigate themselves and their children through receiving a college education. The year-round program offers various weekend workshops, focusing on topics such as, intergenerational communications, financial literacy and productive study skills.

Both Pryor and Holland will be focused on another upcoming pre-college event, the Black Male Summit. The summit is a two-day event, held March 18 and 19 at UWM. The summit which began in 2013, will host middle school and high school boys to explore different college opportunities, and trade career opportunities.

To learn more about the summit contact Victoria Pryor at 414-229-5566. For more information about the Trio and precollege programs contact April Holland at 414-229-2845 or visit www.uwm.edu/trio.

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier

Commentary

Closing the Loss of Learning Reading Gap

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

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The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

By Conway Jones

Reading is the foundation of a good education and fundamental to success in life.

Can you imagine your life without reading? What if you couldn’t read well enough to follow directions, conduct your business, or even enjoy a good book?

Success starts early. Until 3rd grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, they’re reading to learn. Students who don’t achieve literacy by third grade fall behind and become bored, frustrated, and unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education.

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

This summer, they did it. RPL hired Sylvan Learning to provide 15 children, 50 hours of support education to help them achieve literacy at EnCompass Academy in East Oakland.

Sylvan Learning tested the children at the beginning of the program: they were one year to over two years behind grade level in literacy. At the end of RPL’s five-week program, 93% of the students enrolled in the RPL pilot program at EnCompass completed it and the attendance rate was 86%, or an average of 43 hours completed in the 50-hour program.

Students advanced by almost 50% of a school year to grade level. Students grew on all three components of the Sylvan Outlook Survey, indicating a 25% increase in their engagement with school, improvement in their academic perseverance, and their confidence in reading.

All of the parents surveyed indicated that the program was beneficial, that it helped their child read better, their child enjoyed the program, and their confidence in reading improved.

As the parent of one of our students put it, “If you believe in it, you can do it!”

The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

The school staff was thrilled with the overall academic improvements and is eager to partner again next spring. Based on the success last summer, Right Path to Learning will provide additional services to the Oakland Unified School District students in the advancement of its goal of ensuring that 2,000 under-resourced students reach literacy by the end of 3rd grade.

“Our children made substantial progress in confidence and in reading growth. Because of that, a student shared that she is now spending two hours at the library because she is able to read better,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal at OUSD’s EnCompass Academy. “That’s a powerful testimony to the program’s success, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with Right Path to Learning,” she continued.

Right Path to Learning program will move from a Summer School program to an After School program starting January 2022.

In 10 years, these third graders will be 18-year-old adult members of our community, on their way to productive lives and life-long learning.

For more information, visit www.RightPathtoLearning.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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