Challenging Students to Excel: An Achievable Dream

A new $600,000, three-year community foundation grant expanded An Achievable Dream to Lynnhaven Middle School.

A middle schooler, Jordyn Miller is on a path to accomplish her dream of becoming a pediatrician so she “can help kids.”

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools student takes advanced classes and gets extra academic support as An Achievable Dream student. This nonprofit works in area public schools to help students from families with low incomes excel in their studies and life.

Jordyn enrolled as a second-grader when An Achievable Dream first came to Virginia Beach’s Seatack Elementary School in 2014. Before then, the academic program operated only in Newport News. A $500,000, five-year grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation’s unrestricted funds helped bring the program to the Virginia Beach elementary school and expand it.

Just as Jordyn was ready for middle school, a new $600,000, three-year community foundation grant expanded An Achievable Dream to Lynnhaven Middle School. As a sixth-grader in 2018-19, Jordyn and more than 50 of her peers benefitted from the program.

The grant will help An Achievable Dream add a grade each year to take its students through high school graduation in Virginia Beach.

In addition to typical academic subjects, Achievable Dream students have a longer school day and extra classes. They study workforce communications, etiquette and peaceful conflict resolution. They also focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Students wear uniforms, learn to play tennis and start the day reciting in unison at the top of their voices: “I am somebody.” That morning statement motivates Jordyn, who proclaims this mantra “makes you feel better.”

Jordyn’s Achievable Dream teachers encourage her to take advanced classes like pre-algebra in sixth grade, which Jordyn says was “a little more challenging.” If she needs extra help, Achievable Dream tutors are available on Saturdays.

An Achievable Dream “is an accredited program designed to help all children learn and succeed notwithstanding their socioeconomic backgrounds,” says Dr. Lee Vreeland, executive director. Since starting in 1992 in Newport News, An Achievable Dream has had “a 100% high school graduation rate.” She adds that 50% of its high school graduates attend or complete college, compared to the national average of 16% of students from lower-income families.

Jordyn looks forward to continuing to succeed as she moves on through school and on to higher education and her career.

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