STEAM Program Makes Early Achievers

Afterschool Enrichment Program Inspires Learning in Young Students

Child using a magnifying glassFor 10 years, through funding from United Way of Broward County, an afterschool enrichment program called Early Achievers has been helping elementary school students at Sunland Park Academy realize their potential through a Literacy and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) curriculum.

One of those students is Jamar.

Now a second grader, Jamar started in Early Achievers when he was in first grade and was facing challenges both in school and at home. He didn’t pay attention in class, had difficulties taking tests, and frequently got in trouble for his behavior. He was even suspended from school.

All of that changed when Jamar was enrolled in Early Achievers. Every day after school, he and 120 other students met with teachers and teachers’ aides to explore a variety of topics relating to STEAM. Jamar especially enjoyed visiting the Museum of Discovery and Science and learning about the solar system, as well as how to harness the power of the sun through a magnifying glass.   

Jamar’s exposure to STEAM taught him the value of paying attention. The more he listened, the more he learned. The more he focused on class work, the less he got in trouble. He became a leader with his grades, his attitude and his dreams for the future.

And Jamar is not alone. Since Sunland Park Academy started Early Achievers, the school has steadily improved its standing in Broward County Public Schools’ grading system. The once-failing school is now an “A” school – an achievement that has made the entire community proud.

“Our students are achieving more because STEAM is a great outlet for learning,” said Mikelange Olbel, Executive Director of Community Based Connections, which operates the Early Achievers program. “They are scoring better on their tests, they are doing better with their behavior in school and at home, and everyone is happier.”

The Early Achievers program is one of 12 STEM/STEAM-based programs funded by United Way of Broward County. It is part of United Way’s mission to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Broward County.

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