Summer Math Academy at the University of Virginia Helps Charlottesville Students Master Algebra

June 24, 2008 — The University of Virginia's Office for Diversity and Equity has teamed up with the Charlottesville Public Schools to expand their intensive, two-week Summer Math Academy. Now in its second year of operation, the academy is preparing 28 rising eighth-graders and 17 rising ninth-graders to enroll in algebra when school resumes in the fall.

The diverse group of rising ninth-graders attending the math academy are part of the statewide Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP. The summer math academy offers them an opportunity to increase their chances of being prepared for college by getting on the advanced math track in eighth grade, or by doing well in algebra in ninth grade.

In their morning classroom sessions, the students concentrate on pre-algebra math lessons. Later in the day, they attend various enrichment activities to expose them to the University — taking tours of the Grounds, using library and computer labs, and talking with U.Va. administrators about what it takes to get to college. U.Va. undergraduate mentors contribute their expertise by answering questions about high school, college life, and related topics. This year's academy began June 16, and now in the program's second week, Charlottesville High School students, teachers and guidance counselors are also sharing information and experiences with them.

Last year, 26 students participated in the summer math academy. The federally funded GEAR UP effort involves several locally based initiatives, programs and activities to help stimulate an early interest in attending college among low-income students and their families, so they can better prepare for the admissions process and the college experience. And just as important, as they graduate from high school, the students also will be eligible for college scholarships.

"The second program [with rising eighth-grade students] is a duplication of last year, because of the success we have seen in the academic achievement of students in Algebra I," said John Rusina, the GEAR UP coordinator from Charlottesville public schools. "Algebra I is kind of that power course that in eighth or ninth grade you really want those kids to master, which is why we spend so much effort to get these kids ready to go on, not only to high school, but eventually 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 B. Harvey, U.Va.'s 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."

REPORTERS and EDITORS: You may cover the final ceremony to recognize the students' completion of the program on June 27.

Time: Noon – 1 p.m.
Location: West Terrace Room, Observatory Hill Dining Hall, second floor

Other contacts: Daisy Lundy Lovelace, Assistant to the U.Va. Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity,, (434) 243-2185

John Rusina, Charlottesville Public Schools GEAR UP Coordinator,, (434) 245-2665