A step ahead – IWU ALUMNI

Excel Learning Academy is expanding.


— Learning doesn’t stop in any season. Excel Learning Academy, a Christian-based A Beka textbook-instructed private school, graduated eight kindergartners on May 20. Just a week later, it opens summer classes Tuesday.
With 1322 and 1324 E. 37th St. filled with preschoolers and kindergartners, Excel Learning Academy owner and director Sherrie Boards is expanding the school across the street to 1313.
The additional space to open June 5 will hold 16 children and go beyond the traditional classrooms by housing computer and laundry rooms and a separate playroom.
The four-year-old academy moved to 37th Street in September 2005 for much-needed space. Each address holds 16 students.
“I just love to teach,” said Boards, an MBA graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University who took 15 credit hours of early childhood development at Ivy Tech Community College. “I had no intentions of growing, but word got around.”
Tyrone Vertner’s wife, Carlena, heard about Excel through word-of-mouth. Their 6-year-old daughter Natya graduated from the academy last year and now attends Liberty Christian, a private school that also employs A Beka instruction.
Brother Nauteon, 5, isn’t far behind her. He’ll attend Liberty this fall.
The Vertners have seen advancements in Nauteon behaviorally since his August enrollment.
“He broke out of his shyness,” Tyrone Vertner said. “He’s a lot more outgoing, outspoken.”
That’s not the only change.
“He quickly advanced out of the kindergarten level books to first-grade level,” Vertner said.
Pendleton resident Corey Mitchem is another proud papa.
“I’ve noticed a big difference in Asia,” the father said. “Now she’s reading two-syllable words, and likes to read daily. She knows her addition and is starting to work on subtraction.
“From what I’ve seen from her peers at our church, she seems to be a bit advanced for a kindergartner.”
Several students are able to test into first grade, despite their young age.
Asia, 5, will attend Maple Ridge Elementary in the fall.
Asia’s brother, Myles Mitchem, 3, recognizes words “hop,” “jump,” “can” and “run,” said their father. Myles read at Saturday’s graduation from an A Beka book.
Excel students are grouped by age or academics led by Boards, Ann Wise or Toni Wilson. Daily, the 3- to 6-year-olds count to 100, recite shapes, seasons and opposites, to name a few. The morning begins with a half-hour devotion of Christian, American and Bible allegiances, prayer, faith confession, scripture recital and songs. Regardless of age, children are taught Spanish and social studies during their second semester. Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Kids learn by repetition,” Boards said. “Whether they get it or not, we do this every day. If they do this daily, they’ll catch on.
“I’m not a daycare,” she continued. “This is truly a preschool and kindergarten. My motto: Excel in excellence.”
With a student’s fee of $85 a week, Boards added that her school accepts payments from the state’s Child Care and Development Fund that helps low-income families.
“A lot of parents can’t afford to send their children to private schools,” the owner said.
“We don’t leave any kids behind.”

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