Beyond the Baseline: Nathaniel at Calvin Rodwell Elementary

As expressed by our dear friend and partner, Ms. Marika Allen-Lyles, 4th grade math and science teacher at Calvin Rodwell Elementary School in Baltimore:

 Nathaniel (second from left) gets a chance to snap a few pictures of his favorite pro players while they practice at the US Open during ACE - Baltimore's field trip last August.

Nathaniel (second from left) gets a chance to snap a few pictures of his favorite pro players while they practice at the US Open during ACE - Baltimore's field trip last August.

The ACE Project has the ability to radically change the trajectory of many students. Personally, I have seen the athletic improvement of many students. For example, most students' hand-eye coordination was lacking, making the first session of tennis practice difficult but by the end of each tennis camp, many students significantly improved this fine motor skill.

One student that stands out to me as someone that has been greatly impacted by The ACE Project’s goals and objectives on and off the tennis court is Nathaniel, a current 4th grader at Calvin Rodwell Elementary School, who has been an active participant of The ACE Project for two years. Last school year, Nathaniel was very shy and timid in class and on the court. This year, Nathaniel has emerged as a leader during our tennis practices and in the classroom: he has volunteered and led our Winter Performance and actively leads academic discourse in reading and in math class. He is a prime example of our first social and emotional learning skill of patience because, in the classroom, Nathaniel shows patience by accepting challenges in math and reading; he understands that productive struggle is acceptable in the learning process.

Nathaniel (far right) won an individual event at ACE - Baltimore's annual summer tournament against Ashburton Elementary.

At tennis practice, Nathaniel has grown tremendously from last year by persevering through each new skill that is taught. He is confident that, in time, he will master tennis like his academic work. Many of our students encounter tennis for the very first time through ACE, and while students, like Nathaniel, gain experience of the sport, they are also able to apply the social and emotional skills that are embedded in The ACE Project curriculum in their everyday lives.