The Taft School-Police Activity League (PAL) Summer Enrichment Academy has been awarded a generous grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation. The funding supports the enrollment of 85 local students in the summer enrichment academy.
The Taft-PAL Summer Enrichment Academy was the established in 2011 by Waterbury native and Taft faculty member Laura Monti '89, with her husband and Taft Academic Dean Jeremy Clifford. Their goal was to provide meaningful summer opportunities for area students, while opening educational doors. The original curriculum was built around SSAT preparation.
"A lot of Waterbury students are interested in applying to Taft, and schools like Taft," said Clifford, "but sometimes do not do well on the required standardized testing. These are highly motivated learners with very good grades who are just not familiar with the kinds of questions they will see on the SSAT. It is not a question of ability so much as it is exposure to the type of material presented on the test."
Seven rising eighth-grade students enrolled in the first summer session. In six short years, the program has grown exponentially, now enrolling 85 rising sixth- through ninth-grade students in the four-week program, and hiring Taft students and alumni—as well as program alumni—to lead classes in SSAT preparation, academic skill development, study habits, and an array of electives that include things like astronomy, public speaking, music, and financial management. And in each year, the progress has been measurable and meaningful: individual SSAT scores have increased by an average of six to nine percentage points in all three areas, verbal, math, and reading.
"We're very proud of way this program has grown and the results we have achieved," said Monti. "Helping students recognize that they have the academic ability to strive for things they might not otherwise have thought possible is incredibly important and very rewarding. We could not do any of it without the generosity of organizations like the Connecticut Community Foundation."
The Taft-PAL Summer Enrichment Academy also receives financial support from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, and the Ion Bank Foundation.
Based in Waterbury, the Connecticut Community Foundation offers resources and services to nonprofits, students, and donors in 21 towns that make up greater Waterbury and the Litchfield hills. Learn more at conncf.org