The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Rattler Academic Summer Institute in partnership with Smith-Williams Foundation, Inc. is not your average summer camp.
“The goal of the program is to provide the inspiration for students to seek careers in fields they may have once thought to be unattainable,” said Kirk Gavin director of the Rattler Summer Institute. “We want to expose students to new areas of study and to encourage interest not previously considered.”
The institute, part of the FAMU College Reach Out Program (CROP), utilizes certified teachers to incorporate non-traditional teaching methods to boost students FACT skills and provide character development activities for students in grades six to 10.
Students are given pre- and post-exams to gage the level of improvement and provide feedback on how to improve next year’s program. The students receive tutoring in math, science, reading, language arts and writing.
There is also an apprenticeship component of the program that exposes students to career opportunities such as computer technology; small engine repair; bicycle repair; aviation; the Divas Program; and banking.
Students are currently putting their computer technology skills to the test at Nims Middle School and Bond Elementary School where they are refurbishing computers in the schools’ labs as a part of a community service project.
Students that complete each community service project will each receive a computer themselves.
Soloman Stevens, an 11-year-old sixth grade student at Woodville Elementary, is excited about receiving his laptop at the end of the program, but even more excited about the experience.
“I like helping people and making them feel better,” he said. “We get to learn how to fix computers, and we take fields trips.”
Richard Ash, a 14-year-old eighth grade student at Swift Creek Middle School, agrees with Stevens.
“Learning how the computers work is a lot of fun,” he said. “I also learned about myself and how I can do a lot more than I thought. I’m having a real good time.”
Students in the institute have elected to start a “GranPal” program, where each student will partner with an elderly resident in Tallahassee and serve as a companion.
From left to right: Vincent Johnson, Marcus Todd and Tyree McNeal put their computer skills to work at Nims Middle School.