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LaPREP continues to improve educational outcomes for Shreveport middle schoolers

Kate Archer Kent

LSU Shreveport’s LaPREP – a rigorous summer academic program – came to an end yesterday as 49 middle school students walked across the stage at LSUS's University Center Theater to acknowledge two summers of intensive work in math, science, engineering and technical writing covering material well beyond their years. Graduate Nizheala Parrott is entering eighth grade, and she summed up her experiences in an essay she delivered at the ceremony.

“You get to meet new people. You get to be around so many more cultures than you’re used to," Parrott said, while waiting for the ceremony. "The math, science -- I already really liked it, and they just fed my interest in it.”

That’s just the point of LaPREP, which math professor Carlos Spaht started 22 years ago. LaPREP targets high-ability students who are mostly minority, female, and come from low- and middle-income families. Spaht said about 600 students have completed the program, and not one has dropped out of high school.

“I just want them to think it’s a loving, caring and nurturing educational program, and when the students attend it they know without a doubt that they can receive a college degree, and then they go for it," Spaht said.

Retired Louisiana superintendent of education Ollie Tyler delivered the keynote speech. She said there's no question that LaPREP will get the grants because it has a long track record of success, and it follows the students for years after the program.

"This program has statistics that prove it’s working. Consequently, it’s sustainable and it’s being sustained," Tyler said. "Some of the programs come and go, and once the funding is gone, usually the program is gone. This program has longevity.”

LaPREP is fully funded for next year, according to Spaht, and now he’s working on subsequent years. He’s expanded LaPREP and now there are summer programs beginning in upper elementary school all the way through college.

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