by Claire Miller
Peer pressure. Dating. Getting into college. Finding a job.
High school students have a lot on their minds besides studying for their next math test. And having a role model or mentor – a friend – to help them deal with these issues can make a big difference.
For three weeks each summer, the College of Education’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence hosts the Developing Relationships to Enhance African-American Success (DREAMS) Institute, which features a number of activities that teach students valuable math skills and promote social awareness, including critical thinking workshops, math sessions, white water rafting trips and African dance lessons.
DREAMS staff members, made up of Georgia State University students and alumni, log more than 120 hours during the institute, mentoring students not only on scholarship and critical thinking skills, but also on encouraging them to explore their cultural heritage.
“You realize early on that you’re meeting these students at a pivotal time in their lives,” said Khalfani Adair, a GSU graduate student who has been a DREAMS staff member for two years. “The impact you have on these students is incredible.”
Rising 10th through 12th graders from across the metro-Atlanta area attend the institute, which is designed to foster both lifelong learning and increased community responsibility.
“We serve a population of students who don’t often have access to summer programs,” said Alexandria Cooley, DREAMS Institute director. “We want to help them understand their history and culture, and we also try to address common issues that students face every day.”
The institute also helps to build a support system for Atlanta-area students and show them how they can succeed in school and in life.
“We provide a safe, caring learning environment for them,” Cooley said. “As educators, we want to give them positive encouragement and the tools they need to succeed.”