Scholar’s Summer Institute (SSI) Promotes Student Interest in STEM

The Scholar’s Summer Institute (SSI), a rigorous experiential summer enrichment program, is designed to promote minority interest and achievement in advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses.  SSI targets rising 7th and 8th grade middle school students and provides academic support, enrichment, and mentoring to promote achievement in advanced coursework through high school graduation. 

Students from Pryor, Bruner, Meigs, Lewis, Ruckel, Davidson, and Shoal River Middle Schools spent fourteen days at the STEMM Center over the summer immersed in Science and Math.  The program content, designed to help prepare them with the skills they need to succeed in rigorous advanced classes, encouraged them to think like scholars, talk like scholars, and write like scholars. 

Under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Seals, Science/Title X Curriculum Specialist, Debbie Davis, Math Curriculum Specialist, and  Steve Chapman, Equity Specialist, the SSI program features combined emphasis, on Algebra, Scientific Method, and Scientific Reporting/Writing; Blended Delivery: Project Based and Direct Instruction; Team Centered and Highly Interactive (student to student, student- teacher, teacher-teacher) approach.  Students benefit from yearlong academic monitoring, support, and advisement.  The program also offers focused parental outreach and communication.

The SSI program culminated in a Research Symposium and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 26th, 2014, at Edge Elementary School.  Each student received recognition and a medallion.  Several students were asked to share their thoughts on the SSI program with the audience. 

Daniel Woods stated he participated for the enrichment, the opportunities, and because “this program shows us a possible path we can take.  We all have the ability, but this program can fine-tune our skills, rather like putting a small opening in a wild, torrent river.  It can determine how we spend the rest of our lives.”

“I like the fact that there are several students from different schools in the county,” said Elva Diaz.  “It means that I can make new friends, which I already have.  The teachers here are great because they are high school teachers, meaning that they expect us to do good since we are scholars.”

Winners for the Science Projects that were completed as part of the SSI curriculum were announced near the end of the program.  The winners were:

1st Place and Best Presentation - Soda Splatter

Pictured above in no particular order, 1st Place and Best Presentation winners: Daniel Woods, Daniel
Douville, Kyle Losinger, and Jacobe Turner.

2nd Place - Candy Wars

Pictured above in no particular order, 2nd Place winners: Ulises Lopez and Jorman Trochez

3rd Place - Rolling Robots

Pictured above in no particular order, 3rd Place winners: Mia Montenaro, Richard Arimendez, Mark Holtan,
Edward Alexis, and Daniya Kenty.

Honorable Mention - Pop That Brand

Pictured above in no particular order, Honorable Mention winners: Gabrielle Jackson, Janeaja Wright, and
Kywana Donahoo.

Best Board – Blow Pop

Pictured above in no particular order, Best Board winners: Michelle Martinez, Ezekiel Tyus, Autiana Boyer,
and Alexis Parra.

“The Scholar’s Summer Institute was really amazing,” said Mia Montenaro.  “I loved it so much here.  At the beginning it was kind of rough, but at the end everyone started coming together.  It is like we became a family.  It was amazing.”

For more information on the Scholar’s Summer Institute program, please contact Dr. Cheryl Seals at

Visit the OCSD Facebook page to see a gallery of photos from this event.