Mercyhurst to launch Carpe Diem Academy with $1.5 million PDE grant

Mercyhurst College announced today a grant of $1.5 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to launch the school’s Carpe Diem Academy, an academic enrichment program designed to help K-2 students in seven schools within the Erie School District meet state and local academic standards.

Coming on the heels of its new college education program at the Booker T. Washington Center and its partnership in the Erie Together poverty initiative, the Carpe Diem Academy opens a new chapter in Mercyhurst’s ongoing efforts to help enhance the quality of life in Erie.

PDE’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant, administered by Mercyhurst in collaboration with the Erie School District, will be allotted in annual installments of approximately $500,000. The term of the grant is three years, starting now through Sept. 30, 2014. The CCLC program is intended to facilitate extended learning day centers in low-performing schools with the goal of meeting state and local academic standards.

“Mercyhurst is looking forward to working with the Erie School District and Superintendent Jay Badams to create a progressive arts, wellness and academically rich environment for this vulnerable population,” said Mercyhurst College President Dr. Tom Gamble. “We have so much we can learn from each other to raise the achievement of all students in our community, and we’re excited to have our institution, particularly our students, be part of this K-2 collaborative effort.”

Mercyhurst's education department will work with school district officials to establish Carpe Diem Academy centers in the following schools: Burton, Edison, Irving, Lincoln, Perry, Pfeiffer-Burleigh and Wayne. They will be open four days a week from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and available to approximately 60 students per school on a first-come first-served basis.

The staff will include one site director, a certified teacher who is enrolled in Mercyhurst’s graduate program; and clinical support teachers who are Mercyhurst education majors in high standing. Students from Mercyhurst’s pre-service teacher education program will provide small group instruction and one-to-one support as they fulfill clinical requirements.

Teaching teams will execute a math and reading curriculum, facilitate arts and cultural experiences in partnership with local organizations, conduct daily health and wellness activities and provide a healthy snack and dinner. The Carpe Diem Academy will involve many community partners, among them Arts Erie, the Erie Art Museum, Jump Bunch Sports and Fitness, and Penn State CORE, according to Dr. Leanne Roberts, associate dean of the Hafenmaier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, who was instrumental in securing the grant.

"We are pleased to have received a substantial award to create the Carpe Diem Academy, particularly when the state has cut education funding," Roberts said. "This creative and sizeable initiative aligns with Mercyhurst’s mission and core values, specifically being socially merciful, intellectually creative and ambassadors of service. We will educate the minds and nourish the bodies of an estimated 520 of the youngest school-age children in our city. We will do so with compassion, wisdom from our disciplines, and most of all mercy."

The Carpe Diem Academy, named after the Mercyhurst College motto (Seize the Day), will also involve parents, offering seminars ranging from public health issues to nutrition.
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