A4 leads six summer programs for pre-K through 12th grade African American and Black students

Jessica Harrington Image
Tuesday, July 2, 2024
A4 leads six summer programs for pre-K through 12th grade African American and Black students
The A4 program was launched in 2017 to close the gap in academic outcomes between African American students and other demographic groups.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students are spending their summer surrounded by students and staff who look just like them.

While they're building their academic skills, they're also building confidence in who they are.

Nyah Ritter worked on her writing skills while sharing with classmates what she enjoys eating for breakfast on Saturday mornings.

"English muffins with a sausage patty and cheese on it," Nyah said.

The soon-to-be second grader is taking part in the summer reading program.

It's offered and led by the Fresno Unified African American Academic Acceleration program, known as A4.

This is Nyah's third summer in the program, and she's doing so well that she'll be heading to Manchester G.A.T.E. in the fall.

She says while she likes the class, she's also grateful for her teacher and classmates.

"Because I get to meet other people that are like me," Nyah said.

The A4 program was launched in 2017 to close the gap in academic outcomes between African American students and other demographic groups.

The first summer reading program was launched in 2018.

That program has now expanded and, for the first time, there are six classes being offered to nearly 400 students, including Math Camp.

A4 Executive Director Lisa Mitchell, Ed. D. says she hopes students are excited to be in spaces with people who affirm them.

"They're learning about themselves in culturally relevant materials. We have books where they can open a book and see themselves in it," Mitchell said.

One of the places it's easy to see is in Cammie Southern's Kinder Readiness class.

Books have characters that look like the students.

Kids recite the Black national anthem.

"Academic and culture -- so the best of both worlds," Southern said.

While students learn the skills they need to be successful in kindergarten, they're also learning about who they are as a person.

Southern says she hopes that helps carry them through to be a successful graduate with honors one day.

"When you build a child up culturally and let them know who they are, then all of the greatness comes out of them and then you're able to just thrive," Southern said.

The program has already seen a lot of progress but in order to continue, to grow they're hoping for more community partnership and leadership within the district.

For news updates, follow Jessica Harrington on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.