HER MAGAZINE

Women of Achievement: Ruth White started Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success

To goal is help students succeed in post-secondary programs

#x201c;We may not save the world, but I'd like to think we intervened and changed the trajectory of lives,#x201d; says R
“We may not save the world, but I’d like to think we intervened and changed the trajectory of lives,” says Ruth White, executive director and president of the Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success. (The Gazette)

Ruth White teaches students of color that their future is bright if they take their education seriously.

The founder and director of the Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success, White spent 23 years teaching in the Cedar Rapids public school system. For most of that time, she was at Washington High School, where she taught English, humanities and AP literature.

White also served as the academic adviser to minority students at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids.

In this role, she observed the challenges faced by those students who wanted to continue their education after graduation.

... They may have had an idea of what they wanted to do,” White said, but not which courses to take or how to prepare for college.

In 1989, while still teaching, White established the Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success to provide tools for those students to succeed in post-secondary programs.

The Academy offers a six-week summer program for high school students, including a culturally specific curriculum enriched by seminars, movies and trips.

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The program has a 99 percent graduation rate among students who have completed at least one session of the program and a 90 percent post-secondary matriculation rate.

A second program during the school year teaches academic and leadership skills to students in grades 3 through 5.

After retiring from teaching in 2002, White continued to serve as executive director of the Academy on a volunteer basis, taking no salary.

“It was a volunteer effort until just recently, but the board insisted we stop that,” she said.

“I’m eventually going to retire and no one else will do what I’m doing without money, so last year we established a salary track that will provide a modicum of income to my successor.”

White said she intends to remain in her role until that person is identified.

“One of my jobs is to find someone, and when that happens, I’ll be ready to put my feet up,” she said.

But even as she eyes her eventual retirement, White has had to help the Academy adjust to a post-COVID-19 world.

Changes to this year’s summer program will include an all-virtual format and a smaller number of students than the 60-plus the organization had hoped to serve this year.

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In addition, the Academy had to postpone its annual fundraiser from May 7 to Oct. 29. A major source of funding for the Academy’s programming, the event also acknowledges the program’s graduating seniors and pays tribute to positive role models in the community.

“The pandemic has thrown a real crutch in everything, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” White said.

Despite these setbacks, White remains focused on the legacy she would like to leave with the Academy.

“I truly believe in doing everything I can to reverse the clouds of stereotypes that hang over the heads of students of color,” she said.

“We may not save the world, but I’d like to think we intervened and changed the trajectory of lives. That’s my mission.”

Business 380 spotlights HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

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