Buford Middle-Schoolers to Attend College Math Academy at U.Va.

June 18, 2007 -- The University of Virginia is partnering with Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, Va., to offer a federally funded summer enrichment program in math for select rising eighth graders, meant to steer them on a college preparatory path.

The U.Va. Office for Diversity and Equity has worked with Buford teachers and administrators on coordinating the two-week session on Grounds from June 18-29 for 26 participating students. Offered by the U.S. Education Department, GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, involves several initiatives, programs and activities to help stimulate an interest in attending college among low-income students and their families earlier than usual, so they can be better prepared for the admissions process and the college experience. As they graduate from high school, the students also will be eligible for college scholarships.

The College Math Academy students will concentrate on pre-algebra in a Thornton Hall classroom and attend various enrichment activities to expose them to the University, such as touring the Grounds, using library and computer labs and talking with U.Va. administrators about what it takes to get to college.

“At the University, we see this program as another way to demonstrate our commitment to enhancing the quality of education for pre-college students by reaching out to local families, and working hand in hand with our colleagues in the Charlottesville Public Schools,” said William Harvey, U.Va. Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity. “We are pleased to be able to help raise the aspirations and ambitions of these students, and we hope the University of Virginia will be their institution of choice as they complete high school.”

For the diverse group of students attending the program, it will be an opportunity to increase their chances of being prepared for college by getting on the advanced math track this year, taking algebra in eighth grade.

“We are taking 26 students who would not be going into algebra until high school,” said GEAR UP coordinator Jessica Ayres, “and we are accelerating and supporting them to move into the class a year earlier, which will have a long-term impact on their future.”

In addition to the summer academy at U.Va., other GEAR UP activities will benefit the entire eighth grade class at Buford.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia was awarded $18 million for six years last August to administer the state’s GEAR UP grants. In all, more than 6,000 rising eighth graders attending 47 schools in 26 school divisions in Virginia will be a part of GEAR UP.