An intensive program meant to give students learning English as a second language, a boost in their math skills over the summer wrapped up its seventh session Friday when more than 100 students graduated on Sonoma State University’s campus.
The Mike Hauser Algebra Academy, which is put on by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, since 2008 has taught math skills to middle school-aged, non-native English speakers from the Santa Rosa area. Last year, the academy expanded to include Healdsburg students and this year, Sebastopol and Rohnert Park students attended.“The ultimate goal is to reach 300 students, or 25 percent of Sonoma County’s ELL eighth graders, each summer,” said Jonathan Coe, President/CEO of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. “If we can do that, then we have a real chance at moving the needle and improving graduation rates.”
The idea for the program came from former Chamber CEO Mike Hauser, who thought a key to ensuring a trained and educated workforce was increasing graduation rates for those learning English as a second language, according to a press release issued by the Chamber.
He thought a good way to do that would be to give students a head start in algebra, a requirement for graduation, combining math with real world experience in local companies.
Specifically, the academy tries to strengthen the math skills of kids entering ninth grade by engaging them in interactive, hands-on learning guided by local teachers, engineers, and technical experts. The three week program is held at area businesses where students are able to learn algebra standards and their application to high-tech real-world situations, interview engineers and technical experts, and participate in activities related to each host business.
Twenty-eight area businesses hosted Algebra Academy students this year compared to 15 for the 2014 program.
At Friday’s graduation, students got a tour of the university and heard from a panel of Algebra Academy graduates currently attending the school.