BRECKSVILLE, Ohio — Whether they’re doing remote learning or heading back to the classroom, this school year will be a big transition for many students.
Effective Leadership Academy, a nonprofit based in Warrensville Heights, is working to help kids and parents work past those challenges. The ELA Transitions program typically helps kids and parents navigate the changes between grade levels, but this year, no matter if a child is going from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school - things will be different and leaders are committed to help them succeed.
Twelve-year-old Alex Emrick has participated in several ELA programs. He’s going into the seventh grade in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District, but he’ll be staying home and learning 100% online.
“I’m really looking forward to math, and making new friends. I think that'll be very fun,” Alex Emrick said. “I'm kind of nervous, and I'm excited too, but I’m mostly nervous because I don't know, I've never really done an hour of school online. I don't really know what to expect.”
His mom, Kate Emrick, wants him to stay home for safety reasons and is determined to make sure he’s successful with a strong foundation at home.
“As his family and his parents and siblings, how we present and model what's going on is going to make or break our children,” Kate Emrick said.
They’re also getting a little extra help from ELA Transitions. Alex just wrapped up the course last week.
“We have a whole acronym that we work through - CHANGE, recognizing you're at a crossroads, you have to halt, assess the certain situation, learn to negotiate, set goals, and evolve,” founder and executive director of ELA, Flo Brett, said.
Each course is eight hours in length, spread out over a week. They’re typically taught in person to students in fifth to 12th grade. But since the pandemic started, founder ELA’s teachers have connected with around 500 kids over ZOOM.
“This work is too important not to be doing - to be stopping. We need it to continue. The mental health of young people is paramount right now. It's the next pandemic waiting to happen and we want to make sure that we're nipping it in the bud right from the get-go. So we've been working really hard all summer, keeping our young people on the straight and narrow,” Brett said.
Students are taught lessons about their mindset as they navigate the school day.
“We teach our students about what their mindset is. And as you enter an experience or as you enter a day - are you coming here as a learner ready to be engaged? And we know what that feels like,” Brett said. “Are you here today as a vacationer? Someone who may be not quite completely turned on? Or are you here today as a prisoner mindset… don't want to be here.
Brett says those lessons help kids and parents have real conversations about how the school year is going.
“I think right now that parents are being the educators at home, what they're doing is they're receiving the traditional math and English and they're doing that, but there's a lot more they're realizing to the development of a child and what we do is take it to another level. And so not only are we providing the essential support to students, but we're also supporting parents in this traumatic time as well,” Brett said.
Kate Emrick said the program has taught her sons leadership skills, and provided them with mentorship, social, and emotional learning - which she’s grateful for.
“That peer interaction is so critical, you know, they may not even know they're feeling something about this upcoming school year, but just to put these games and these activities in front of them and what their peers, the kids that are their age, they're able to maybe come out sideways hey I didn't know I was feeling that way,” Kate Emrick said.
More information about Effective Leadership Academy and the ELA Transitions program can be found here.
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