Dallas City of Learning Partners: EAGLE Scholars

Established: 2007 in Dallas as part of the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation

About: EAGLE Scholars is a college-readiness program for 7th-12th graders. Students are nominated by their teachers at the end of their 6th grade year and then interviewed by the Director and older EAGLE Scholars. Thirty new students are chosen each year, and they remain in the program until graduation. EAGLE Scholars engage students in experiential learning and expose them to new thoughts and ideas in order for them to internalize that they are college material and can begin working toward their goals and dreams. The EAGLE Scholars program is relationship-based and student-centered. It combines individual family meetings, college readiness meetings, college simulation programs, exposure to career opportunities, and engagement in cultural activities. They address low-income students’ unique needs to be prepared mentally as well as academically to be the first in their family, and perhaps in their community, to go to college.

Why is summer learning so important? 

“Summer provides students a chance to explore interests and access opportunities that aren’t available in a classroom setting,” says Janet Morrison, Director, EAGLE Scholars. “Most people are very aware of the summer slide these days. Summer slide is a term that is used to talk about the learning loss that happens during the summer. However, learning loss is not only preventable, but can be reversed, given the right learning opportunities. EAGLE Scholars is a college readiness program that has a six-week summer program. Summer allows us to spend dedicated time with our Scholars to help them gain an understanding of soft and hard skills they will need to help them prepare for college. Because our Scholars are first generation students, getting the academic portion at school is not enough. In the summer, we are able to help them develop language skills, interviewing skills, knowledge about colleges, public speaking, and scholarship writing. We are able to take field trips to colleges, businesses, and fun experiences they haven’t known about previously.”

Why partner with Dallas City of Learning? 

“Many kids in our communities have parents who work long hours,” says Morrison. “In addition, they don’t have the transportation or the finances to help them find and access opportunities. By partnering with DCoL, we are able to provide our summer interns and students with online opportunities at our summer program. DCoL helps the interns with creative ideas and ways to engage the students. By providing online and DIY activities, students can search for and find interests that they may have never explored otherwise.”

How does your participation in Dallas City of Learning benefit EAGLE Scholars kids? 

“Some of our students don’t have computer access at home,” says Morrison. “By engaging with DCoL, we are able to help them access and get comfortable with the platform while they are at our program. We hope that engaging with the DCoL site at our program will allow them the comfort level to continue it on their phones and at home so they can explore more and engage more with activities of interest, opening up a wealth of opportunities beyond our 8:00-3:30 program.”

What is your vision and passion for the future of education? 

“My vision and passion for education is for young people to have the opportunity to explore and experience learning,” says Morrison. “I want students to realize how exciting and fun learning can be and not associate ‘learning’ with ‘boring.’ My goal is to make learning real and practical to them. I would love to see education and schools be more project-based…banks in schools where students run them, simulated learning where students engage in actual projects, opportunities to develop designs and products, etc. I want students to have hands-on experiences that help them make the connections between what they’re learning and how it applies to their life. I would love to see them being the creators of their own learning instead of simple recipients in a passive learning environment.”

— Mario Tarradell