A national nonprofit founded in 1992
Educators of the Year in Montgomery, Alabama

BellXcel Names Educators of the Year

Educators of the Year in Montgomery, Alabama

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA — BellXcel is pleased to recognize Darryl Woods and Connel VanDiver with its Educator of the Year award. The Montgomery, AL, educators are essential to delivering dynamic, evidence-based summer learning with measurable outcomes at the YMCA of Greater Montgomery’s Power Scholar Academy (PSA).

The annual award from national nonprofit out-of-school-time (OST) leader BellXcel, recognizes educators who best exemplify BellXcel’s core values of excellence, learning, respect, courage and collaboration. At PSA, Mr. Woods serves as Association Program Lead, and serves as VP of Community Development at the YMCA of Greater Montgomery. Mr. VanDiver serves as a Parent Liason in Montgomery County Public Schools during the school year, and has served as PSA’s Program Manager for the past 6 years.

Both educators work hard to secure site locations, recruit the right staff, visiting schools and maintain good relationship with principals, teachers, counselors, parents, and scholars, says Gary A. Cobbs, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Montgomery.

Darryl Woods and Connel McDiver

“As the first model of this program in Alabama, we knew the stakes were high, but the rewards would be great if we selected the right leaders to begin this journey for our children,” said Mr. Cobbs. “I am so proud of the great leadership that Connell VanDiver and Darryl Woods have provided to this program over the years. It is building the bridge to a greater future for not only the children impacted by this program, but for the future of our community.”

Over the past 6 years, delivered in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools, PSA has mitigated summer learning loss by increasing the literacy and math skills for nearly 1,000 enrolled students, known as scholars. Last summer, scholars gained 2 months of reading skills, and 3 months of math skills. Scholars also acquired key skills in problem solving, critical thinking, & social-emotional learning (SEL). In addition, 100 percent of teachers reported an increase in scholars’ confidence, while 94 percent of parents reported their child having a more positive attitude about school.

“The Y is so happy to be working with BellXcel to close the academic achievement gap for children in our community. With very tangible things like educational readiness, engagements, and outcomes, we know our students are gaining measurable outcomes in math and reading each year,” said Mr. Cobb. “The beauty of this program is that very intangible things come with it as well such as helping the students grow emotionally and physically. Those intangible things hinge on having leadership that has great vision and creativity.”

The program’s summer impact was also felt by participating educators. Certified teachers from local schools, who led the academic portion of the program, received 266 hours of professional development. Surveys show that 100 percent of teachers said PSA developed their professional skills; and all would recommend PSA to parents. Of surveyed parents, 91 percent of parents said they became more involved in their child’s education, while all would recommend the program to other parents.

Related News

The Scholar Pledge: Where there is injustice I will take a stand

The BellXcel Pledge

Each day, young scholars join together and recite this pledge. This daily practice is meant to empower them to believe in themselves, in their ability to evoke change, and to be a force for good in this world. For more than 25 years, BellXcel has worked for social justice through education. And...
Girl looking out window

Leveraging Findings from OST Research and Practice to Lessen COVID-19 Learning Gaps

As the pandemic continues to confine many children and families, it is entirely possible that millions of students could go without formal schooling for upwards of 6 months, leaving many students significantly behind in their learning trajectory at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. BellXcel...
U.S. Capitol Building

Take Action for Our Youth: 6 Priorities for the Next Stimulus Package

We must collectively prioritize youth. COVID-19 restrictions are dramatically disrupting the ability for our youth to learn and develop, especially in communities where access to critical tools and resources are limited or non-existent. The learning gaps that youth will undoubtedly experience over...