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Summer LEAP prepares students and future teachers

Tiana Junious, founder of Noetic Learning Center, one of two locations for Allendale Columbia summer LEAP program.
April Franklin
Tiana Junious, founder of Noetic Learning Center, one of two locations for Allendale Columbia summer LEAP program.

A summer program is helping Rochester City School students prepare for the upcoming school year while also creating a pipeline of diverse teachers. 

Community is the theme this summer for students attending the Allendale Columbia Summer LEAP program. The six-week educational program for K-7 students started as part of a school improvement plan to help RCSD school 17 get out of receivership. They successfully achieved that goal in 2019. 

Students from Teen Empowerment and the Teaching and Learning Institute at East High School were on board this summer to help with math, reading, and for social emotional support of the 77 students in the program. 

Sarah Adams of Teen Empowerment said that she has learned that students have different needs.

“When I was in elementary school a lot of my teachers took the approach that every student had to deal with them the same way, but to some extent that’s not true,” Adams said.

Adam adds that some students need different opportunities or different forms of discipline. 

In response to the pandemic, the program moved from its Pittsford location to two inner city locations: Noetic Learning Center in Rochester’s 19th Ward and the Campbell Street R-center near School 17. 

RCSD teacher Tiana Junious founded Noetic Learning Center in October 2020 to help students and families struggling with virtual learning.

Director Lindsey Brown said many of the students live nearby and they want to make the LEAP program more accessible.

“We thought it was very important to evolve the model to be more community embedded, Brown said. “Luckily I have a longstanding relationship with Ms. Junious who is an incredibly culturally responsive teacher and has launched a learning center in the 19th Ward.”

Literary discussion about the book,Take Back the Block, and a downtown art walk tour hosted by Quajay Donnel, helped the students relate to their own community.

Teen Empowerment Youth Organizer, Max-yamil Cabezudo-Brown said he has learned that younger students have an awareness about real-world issues.

“It's been really powerful to see them talk about gentrification and white privilege, said Cabezudo-Brown. That's probably been the most powerful thing I learned this summer from them.”


April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.