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SLU School of Education Hosts Access Academies' 2024 Summer School Program

by Gracie LaBlance on 07/02/2024


Saint Louis University's School of Education recently concluded its second year hosting Access Academies' mandatory three-week summer school program, which commenced at SLU after Memorial Day. The program, designed to prepare middle school students for success in high school and beyond, is rooted in Access Academies’ pillars of enrichment, counseling and scholarships.

A student wearing an Acess Academies T-shirt is seen from behind while talking to another student on a grassy field.
Photo by Matthew Kowalski

Access Academies partners with three middle schools: St. Cecilia School and Academy, St. Louis Catholic Academy and Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School. Previously, each school conducted its summer program independently, utilizing its own facilities and teachers. This year, all three schools were brought together on SLU’s campus. 

Angela Moret, Ed.D., director of the Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC), and Karissa Sywulka, director of STL Teaching Fellows, played pivotal roles in coordinating the summer school. They connected Access Academies with former BTC teachers and STL Teaching Fellow alums to ensure a high-quality teaching staff for the program. This year’s faculty consisted of nine teachers from STL Teaching Fellows, Sister Thea Bowman and BTC.

A student kicks a soccer ball on a field while two others, standing in a goal, watch.
Photo by Matthew Kowalski

The program hosted 100 students, who spent their days primarily in Beracha Hall and Des Peres Hall on SLU’s campus. The academic schedule ran from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., with students rotating between reading, writing, and math classes. Afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m. were dedicated to enrichment activities provided by Mentors In Motion, a nonprofit organization supporting underserved youth. These classes included chess, praise dance, video editing and songwriting, with nine work-study students assisting. From 3 to 5 p.m., the program offered extended enrichment to help families who needed it, with some students staying for additional classes with Mentors In Motion.

The summer school experience extended beyond academics. Students enjoyed lunch and recess on the SLU soccer fields, with equipment provided by the SLU Simon Recreation Center. Weekly events such as snow cones by the clock tower and meals at the Grand Dining Hall offered students glimpses into campus life. A field day during the program's second week included games including frisbee, kickball and ring toss. 

The program's conclusion on June 14 featured students’ presentations at the Center for Global Citizenship. They showcased their projects, including videos, songs, a business simulation, and a praise dance performance. Students displayed a sense of pride as they presented their achievements to their peers and mentors. 

Exposure to college life is a key component of the summer program, aiming to increase college acceptance and persistence rates.

Early college exposure can significantly impact students' academic trajectories. 

Carolyn Dubuque, Access Academies Director of Mission Effectiveness

 By preparing learners for prestigious Catholic high schools and potential university attendance, the Access Academies Summer School Program seeks to uplift students' outlooks on life and improve their families' socioeconomic outcomes. 

For more information about Access Academies, please contact Carolyn Dubuque at or visit their website.