For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Jeannine Julien, 734-995-6816

Success Academy helps 6th Graders Move up to Middle School 

Academy augments Family Learning Institute’s tutoring programs 

Ann Arbor, Nov 28, 2016—A new program called Success Academy is helping 6th graders ease the transition from elementary to middle school. The weekly program, run by the Family Learning Institute (FLI), is open to students who have graduated from FLI’s longstanding tutoring program. Success Academy provides students with homework help, but also gets them talking about some of the difficult issues that crop up in middle school: how to make friends, how to set goals to keep pace with schoolwork, and how to deal with stress.

“Sixth grade is pivotal,” says Christy Martin, Success Academy Program Director. “The work gets harder, and a child who might have struggled with reading in elementary school now has to master difficult vocabulary in science and technology. In addition to providing help with homework,” she adds, “we want to help these students develop leadership skills and to help them adjust socially and emotionally.”

On a recent Thursday night at the Ginsberg Center on the U-M Campus, the group reviewed a scenario in which a young boy didn’t get along with his teacher and was falling behind in math. The group was quick to give advice: the student should talk to his counselor, carefully check his work, study his heart out, and use his time wisely.

One of the most popular segments of the evening is an auction in which students bid on small items, using tokens for ‘money’ they have earned for demonstrating motivation: bringing their planners, defining a new vocabulary word, writing a book report, or explaining something learned from a textbook.

The students are enthusiastic about Success Academy. Saran Camara, an eighth grader who serves as a role model for the younger students, likes the small group setting where students get one-on-one help. “Teachers don’t have time give that kind of attention at school,” she says. And, she adds, this is not just any kind of study session. “Some kids think that learning is boring, but you come here and they make it fun.”

The program is a logical way to help students who had previously attended FLI tutoring sessions in math or reading progress, explained Martin. She also points to a *study by Johns Hopkins researchers noting that a 6th grader with even one of the following behaviors had only a 10 to 20 percent chance of graduating from high school on time: a failing grade in mathematics or English, attendance below 80 percent for the year, and a final ‘unsatisfactory’ behavior mark in at least one class. Success Academy is designed to keep students on track academically and in their behavior.

Success Academy is held Thursdays from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Ginsberg Center, 1024 Hill Street, Ann Arbor. It is open to students who have graduated from FLI’s reading or math tutoring programs.

Note: If you would like to arrange an interview with Executive Director Sharine Buddin, or Christy Martin, Success Academy Program Director, please call: 734-995-6816.

About the Family Learning Institute 

The Family Learning Institute was founded in 1999 to help eliminate the achievement gap in Washtenaw County. FLI’s core program provides free, one-on-one reading and math tutoring for 2nd to 5th grade students from economically disadvantaged households in Washtenaw County. Sessions take place after school and away from school to provide a safe, private environment where children can learn. A nonprofit organization, FLI serves about 150 students each year.

Study reference * Balfanz, R, Herzog L, MacIver, DJ, “Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grades Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions,” Educational Psychologist (2007), 42(4), 223–235.