The Snead State Community College TRIO program didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from serving their Upward Bound students with the annual Summer Academy.
The Upward Bound students could not come to campus this summer due to the college closing to the public, so the TRIO staff went to the students. Upward Bound is a program to get students whose family members might not have gone to college in the past thinking about college.
“Each year, the TRIO Upward Bound program hosts a summer academy to provide a six-week college experience. This year, we hosted a virtual academy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the academy was online, my team and I worked to create a memorable, fun and meaningful experience for our participants,” said TRIO Programs Director Marie Smith.
The Upward Bound program serves high school students from Asbury, Boaz, Brindlee Mountain, DAR and Douglas high schools. The theme for the virtual summer academy was “TRIO 2020 Upward Bound is Virtually Unstoppable,” a theme the TRIO staff lived up to. The summer academy allows the high school students to take core college classes in math, English, science, and foreign language, and those were still offered online this summer.
The students also participated in life skills and enrichment classes sponsored through the TRIO program. The enrichment classes covered topics such as financial literacy, career challenges, motivation, self-confidence, and ACT prep and were delivered through the College’s BlackBoard system. Students were successful in completing 96 assignments and tests during the summer.
Another component of the Summer Academy includes university tours and cultural events for students. Though they were unable to participate in these activities in person due to the pandemic, they were able to attend these events through live video.
“The Upward Bound staff worked around the clock, creating a virtual summer academy program that would keep the students active and learning throughout the summer months,” said Director Smith. “It has certainly been a success.”
The Summer Academy didn’t just serve students through virtual classes. Each year, the program also provides meals to participants while they stay on campus for the academy. That aspect looked different this summer, but it didn’t stop. Students were provided food through no-contact scheduled drop-offs each week.
Director Smith and Academic Advisor April Harris delivered food and supplies to the students each week for six weeks. They averaged around 150-200 miles in travel delivering food each week. The total number of miles traveled for the summer was 1,476.
“Food was left at a student’s mailbox or porch. Some students were waiting on their porch or standing outside when we pulled up, so we were able to speak with them while maintaining a social distance,” said Director Smith. “I know this was a blessing for these students to be able to receive these services through such rough times. It was also a blessing for TRIO to be able to provide these services.”
At the end of the Summer Academy, the TRIO program provided participants with backpacks, school supplies, and T-shirts to begin the new school year.
Any students from Asbury, Boaz, Brinlee Mountain, DAR and Douglas high schools who would like to be a part of the TRIO Upward Bound program in the future may contact Director Smith at email@example.com for more information.