New education program in Southington provides support for distance learners

SOUTHINGTON – With a focus on helping local youth, Yes! Academy (Youth Educational Success) will provide students with educational support, tutoring, mentoring and youth development programs.

The program, which will launch on Monday, is the result of the Make It Different Foundation, which was founded by Deborah Garner in honor of her late son Taahir “Ty” Harris. Garner, who has always wanted to make mentoring part of the foundation’s mission, decided to create the program after considering educational alternatives for his daughter.

“We made the decision to take it out of traditional public schools and explore online learning,” Garner said. “… You realize that the kids who participate in a lot of these online platforms, whether they’re district-run or not, are really isolated. ”

After realizing that online learning platforms were isolated, Garner helped organize the Yes! Academy program to provide young people with academic, social, emotional and psychological support.

“We decided this was a great opportunity not only to have an office presence for the Make It Different Foundation, but to use the rest of the space to design something exciting and creative to support the Foundation. ‘current learning environment, which in my opinion is a crisis,’ says Garner.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Garner said the space on North Main Street can accommodate up to 10 to 15 students. The program is aimed at middle and high school students, but does not reject anyone who needs help.

“We really try to design individual plans based on the student’s motivations and interests,” Garner said. “By finding ways to really grab their attention, make sure what they’re doing is relevant to their learning and career goals. ”

While the Yes! Academy space is still under development, Garner said the program now has its basic needs: access to technology through its media room and expert volunteers in areas such as engineering, technology, humanities, education and art.

Maile Bourgel, who is a youth worker, got involved in Yes! Academy after hearing about it from friends.

“I hope to inspire (the students) or motivate them to start thinking about their future now and working on it now,” Bourgel said.

Kays Cetin, who is a former Mentor and Board Member of Make It Different, has helped Yes! Academy since its inception.

“What I think is going to end up functioning as a comfortable and safe space to complement children’s learning and what we hope to accomplish is to provide, especially now more than ever, a place where children can go and be. really focus on a trade or something to learn, “Cetin said.” … Children definitely might need some guidance. ”

Yes! The Academy will accept students who are part of the public school system, those who have gone to a private online school, and students looking for a new program.

Garner also hopes to make learning fun.

“Learning has to be fun, it has to be inspiring,” Garner said. “We don’t want to take the same mind-numbing approach to learning that we see in the traditional classroom education model. We’re looking to design something very different.

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