Brenau Hosts RISE Graduation July 15
More than 100 Hall County elementary school students are expected to receive diplomas at Brenau University’s Downtown Center on July 15 as part of the 2016 RISE graduation ceremonies.
The RISE (Real Interactive Summer-learning Experience) program is now in its fifth year. The six-week summer camp is a collaborative effort by Brenau University, the Gainesville Housing Authority, Gainesville City Schools and other community partners to provide health, nutritional and cultural awareness programming to predominantly lower-income students through in-class activities, special instructional sessions and field trips.
“RISE is meant to provide the opportunity for students to have fun while preventing summer learning loss,” said Brenau University College of Education Associate Dean Tommye Thomas, “all while incorporating lifestyles training, literacy and mathematics.”
Other organizations and agencies participating in the program include the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, the Elachee Nature Science Center, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, the Hall County Health Department, the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids and the Quinlan Visual Arts Center.
Seven Brenau students, including recent graduates and undergraduates, served as instructors during this year’s program. “They pre-planned the program starting in May,” Thomas said. “They are teaching the students according to Common Core Standards, but at the same time, the summer camp model allows them to be more creative.”
Fair Street School Principal William Campbell said the RISE program benefits his students in several ways. Socially, the program gives students an opportunity to interact with children from other schools and make friends from outside their own neighborhoods. Then, there is the impact on academics.
“Last year, we did some data,” Campbell said. “When the kids first come back from summer break, we give them reading assessments. The kids that were in the RISE program, an overwhelming number of them didn’t suffer from that summer slump. They maintained their reading levels, and many of them even surpassed them.”
Campbell said the program isn’t just about giving working parents peace of mind and keeping students engaged in learning while school is out, however. It also provides excellent career opportunities for aspiring educators.
“The RISE experience is similar to, if not more real than, the student teaching experience,” he said. “It definitely gives us a chance to find some good teaching prospects.”
That includes several Brenau alumnae who participated in previous RISE summer camps, including current Fair Street School teachers Ana Hortman and Ashley Hamby.
The graduating RISE students will receive their certificates at 10 a.m. Former Gainesville, Georgia, Mayor Myrtle Figueras will speak at the reception.
A resource fair, featuring representatives from Clearpoint Credit Counseling, the Goodwill Career Center and the Georgia Department of Labor, among many other agencies and organizations, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. The event, at 301 Main St. SW in Gainesville, Georgia, is free and open to the public.