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I want to thank First Free for the Jeremiah Fund Grant to Lydia Urban Academy last spring.
For some time, Lydia has been serving many low-income Rockford youth who had been unsuccessful in their previous schools and who needed a non-traditional classroom setting as well as appropriate specialized intervention to improve their chances for earning a diploma and gaining the life skills for employment so that they can contribute to their community. Our classroom ratio is 10:1, which allows students to receive more help from the teacher. We use much project-based learning experiences so that students can learn subject matter material in different ways, allowing a student to express their learning in ways appropriate for their learning skills and abilities. It had become increasingly apparent that our specialized intervention program, utilizing the  NILD (National Institute for Learning Development) program, needed to expand so the Jeremiah Fund contribution helped make it possible to train additional staff so we could expand help to low-income students who otherwise could not afford such services. So many of our students have Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s) and 504 Plans and still were unsuccessful in their previous schools because their achievement scores were often 4 or more years below their expected grade level. For them to earn diplomas and become successful in getting jobs, they needed intensive intervention that would change the way they learn and help them develop strategies to become efficient and effective learners at the level that would allow them to become successful and independent. NILD Educational Therapists are trained to guide learning and mediate student’s thinking to higher levels with good questioning, utilizing specific academic and processing techniques so they can make more than a year’s progress academically in one year, rather than to continue to lose ground each year they are in school. The NILD philosophy is based on the expectation that cognition and academic difficulties can be improved, giving student’s new hope in the future. This year we were able to provide  Educational Therapy to three more Lydia students and we expect that more will be added during the year.

Thanks again for the Jeremiah Fund contribution.

Vesta Gillette

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