During the Holiday Celebration at College Achieve, the Kindergarten scholars were given an opportunity to have a Winter/Holiday themed story read aloud to them by the 7th grade scholars.

The 7th grade scholars chosen to participate have committed themselves to scholarly behavior and integrity through their behavior management plan. The plan was developed by the teachers and  scholars to offer incentives for positive behavior, including class participation, community acts of service, and honesty.

These behaviors are tracked via Class Dojo with the top dojo leaders being selected to participate in a school wide event and celebration in their classrooms. In November, they organized a canned food drive, and in December, they sorted toys for the Toys for Tots drive. Those toys were distributed to 350 scholars and hundreds of children in our community.

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As a result of acting on their behavior plan, 7th grade has been recognized as most improved. The biggest gift in this experience is that children are treated with respect for their hard work and dedication to what it means to be a student at College Achieve.

The 1st grade scholars participated in a snow experiment lesson in science class with their teacher, Mrs. Bermudez. Scholars use the Toulmin Writing Model to form a hypothesis, gather evidence, and develop a claim about their observations during the science lesson. In addition, in English Language Arts Class with Ms. K Brown, they used the same writing model to write descriptive paragraphs about gingerbread houses. The scholars were given an opportunity to share their hard work during video production which was curated to recognize and show appreciation to their gifts and talents.

The door decorations designed by the scholars with the assistance of their teachers, teach scholars to take pride in presentation. This life skill, one that is transferable into many life applications, is recognized by a contest put on by our principal, Mr. Henry McNair.

Mrs. Claus, played by 7th grade ELA teacher Mrs. Rivera, who has been instrumental in enforcing the behavior management plan. When asked to play the role of Mrs. Claus, she stated, “Sure, but I have to be back in time to read the final chapters with my class before we go on winter recess.” This speaks to the heart of a College Achieve Teacher.

Mr. Kopitar, 7th grade social studies teacher, found it rewarding to surprise children with his character as the Grinch. When the scholars in Ms. Reynolds' Kindergarten class were afraid of the Grinch, she offered emotional support and humor to comfort her students. College Achieve embraces teachers as individuals who have special gifts and talents and encourages them to pour those into their students.

As a culmination to the day, our executive director, Dr. Gemar Mills, dressed as Santa Claus, which brought so much joy to our scholars. He had an opportunity to hear the Christmas wishes of hundreds of scholars in grades K-2 and to make some of those wishes come true at the holiday dance that evening. The holiday dance was a fundraising event which raised over $500 to offset the cost for field trips for our scholars in grades K-2.

The importance of social and emotional learning development was the core of this experience for scholars at College Achieve Paterson. CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) an organization based at the University of Illinois, defines Social Emotional Learning as: 

“Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Each and every activity was formed with this concept in mind and to see it all come together in hundreds of smiles, and a school filled with holiday spirit and joy, realizes just how necessary these sorts of school events are. 

The College Achieve Family would like to thank Mrs. Peggy Hockenberry, a seamstress from Midland Park, who donated the costumes to our very special school event. We would also like to thank Mr. Harold for his video production “Christmas at College Achieve.”

This event, spearheaded by Ms. Robinson, the fundraising coordinator at College Achieve Paterson is just one of the many exciting things happening at College Achieve this year!