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a young boy at School 8 in our Power Scholars Academy

It’s been another summer of learning (and fun!) at the Power Scholars Academy (PSA). Combining academic lessons, enrichment activities, service projects, and more, PSA has provided a full-day camp experience for City of Rochester children free of charge now for nearly a decade. 

Jonathan Coyle, Director of Power Scholars Academy, said the summer can be difficult for students due to the transition between school years. He added that the structure of a school day — from curriculum and class schedules to meals throughout the day — can get lost with the freedom of summer, but a program like PSA is designed to combat what may be lost there. 
“I think what’s cool about Power Scholars Academy is that it does provide that structure and a lot of those important elements like meals, safe and caring adults, peers, and a sense of community through the summer,” he said. 
Part of this emphasis on having structure is tied to the ideations of Project-Based Learning and Summer Learning Loss Prevention (SLLP). Rather than children going two months without educational instruction, and not retaining what they learned from the prior school year, SLLP is why PSA organizes its program to resemble what school days look like for students.  

PSA’s curriculum is provided through BellXcel, which focuses primarily on ELA and math based on grade level from Pre-Kindergarten to eighth grade. During the first week of the month-long program, the scholars are tasked with completing a pre-assessment test to evaluate their reading and math levels to help build out a plan for their respective classrooms.

The biggest area of focus for Coyle, however, was ensuring that PSA prioritized the social-emotional component for all its scholars.  

“A big part of our training weeks was working with staff to build a baseline understanding of ‘yeah, this is what our outcomes are, this is what we’re here to do, but it’s all encompassed in the fact that this is a safe environment for kids,’” said Coyle. “Physically, emotionally, and socially.” 
Tavari, a rising fourth grader in PSA who is pictured above, has enjoyed being able to spend this summer with family, including his siblings — little sister Ariyah and big brother Yasir, who works in PSA as a Floating Teacher Assistant. Tavari has liked learning new words in the ELA program and more skills in math, specifically new ways to look at subtraction.

Arianna, who will be in seventh grade this fall, has also learned a lot in her time at PSA. She said it was exciting learning more about the late musician Tupac Shakur in ELA, as well as angles in geometry.  

“I learned that there’s a 360-degree angle and there’s an acute angle too,” said Arianna, who added that the math skills she learned this summer will help her this school year.  

But it’s not all about schoolwork; Arianna has enjoyed being a part of the Dance Club, with a few dance routines inspired by TikTok trends. She also likes being able to paint mountains with her friends and play dodgeball during her free time.

a photo of a young girl at School 8 during Power Scholars Academy
Arianna, a rising seventh grader who participated in the Power Scholars Academy in the Summer of 2023.

The latest summer session of PSA has been one to highlight for children in the City of Rochester. Coyle — who is a part of the YMCA of Greater Rochester’s Community Services Division — may be in his first summer as PSA’s Director, but he is excited about what he and his staff have already accomplished thus far. 

“I think the team is very impressive with all they’ve been able to do,” said Coyle. “Our enrichment time is very cool. Each classroom creates its own game that it is themed on, and their all making their own version of that game for our final day, the Community Showcase Day.”