Serving students in grades 1-8
Pioneer Scholars ensures that our elementary and middle school students are building academic skills, achieving in school, and laying the foundation for future college success.
Pioneer Scholars is a free, academic enrichment program serving academically-focused elementary and middle school students in Durham County who aspire to attend college after high school. The goal of the program is to establish a strong foundation of academic and leadership skills so that students enter high school ready to excel in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that will put them on the path to admission at select colleges and universities.
Program benefits include:
- Small group instruction and skill building
- Academic benchmarking to assess college readiness
- Cultural, arts, and social enrichment activities
- Character and leadership skill building
- Career exploration for middle school students
- Parent and family engagement and support
- Summer enrichment programs
Our Pioneer Scholars have a passion for learning, demonstrate a positive attitude toward school, and are leaders within their school communities. Students must also demonstrate personal character, work-ethic, and integrity as evidenced by teacher recommendations, personal statements (for middle school applicants), and an interview process.
To be eligible for Pioneer Scholars, students must reside in Durham County and meet financial eligibility requirements. The strongest candidates demonstrate academic commitment (mostly A/4 and B/3 grades) and have robust family support. Factors such as attendance, engagement in the classroom, behavior, and academic potential are also taken into consideration when making enrollment and retention decisions.
Pioneer Scholars is supported by an outstanding group of licensed, qualified educators we call Lead Tutors. Each Lead Tutor, supported by a small team of volunteers, has a high level of proficiency in teaching literacy, math, and STEM-related subjects. Lead Tutors facilitate well-designed instructional activities that engage students, accelerate learning, and address identified gaps in skills or proficiencies. This robust support model allows for both small group and one-on-one instruction based on student need. Throughout the academic year, families have the opportunity to consistently communicate with Lead Tutors concerning the progress and needs of their students.
Our lead tutors are award-winning, accomplished educators; we’re honored to have several current and former ‘Teachers of the Year’ on staff.
The application window for the 2021-2022 academic year is now open! Please note the priority application deadline of April 1, 2021. Applications can be picked up at the Emily K Center or downloaded from the website below. Please call 919-680-0308 prior to coming to the Center to ensure the building is open — we are currently only open on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Applications will be reviewed after the application window closes, and student interviews will be held in late April and May. Students who most closely meet the admissions profile are considered the strongest candidates and will be contacted for an interview. Families will be notified of student selections by mid-July. The application process is a competitive one. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
2021-2022 Pioneer Scholars Applications
Pioneer Scholars Application Packet – Elementary School – English
Pioneer Scholars Application Packet – Elementary School – Spanish
Pioneer Scholars Application Packet – Middle School – English
Pioneer Scholars Application Packet – Middle School – Spanish
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Meet The Pioneer Scholars Team
Nephitearya Bailey SingletonDirector of Elementary and Middle School Readiness
Nephitearya joined the Emily K Center team in 2019 as director of elementary and middle school readiness. She earned her B.A. from Meredith College and was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow.
Favorite book: The Little Prince
Best advice ever received about education: Don’t measure your success by another person’s yardstick.
Banlly BanegasElementary and Middle School Programming Support Manager
Banlly has been with the Emily K Center since 2014 and currently serves as the program support manager for Pioneer Scholars. She is a certified community Spanish interpreter and received her credentials through Durham Technical Community College.
Favorite late-night college snack: Tiramisu cake and coffee
Favorite school supply: Polka-dot notebooks
Kaitlyn GrayElementary and Middle School Programming Coordinator
Kaitlyn has been working with the Pioneer Scholars program since she first came to the Center in 2017. In 2021, Kaitlyn assumed the role of elementary and middle school program coordinator. She earned her B.A. from Appalachian State University.
Favorite late-night college snack: Instant mac and cheese
Favorite college course: Child and adolescent psychology
Volunteer With Pioneer Scholars
Working under the supervision of programming staff and Lead Tutors, volunteer tutors provide direct academic and enrichment support to the students in their assigned group. In order to serve as a volunteer tutor, you must be at least 18 years of age, successfully complete a background check, and have a high level of proficiency in literacy, math, and/or STEM-related skills.
If you are interested in volunteering in a non-academic capacity, please contact us at email@example.com.Apply Now To Be A Volunteer Tutor
Meet Dylan, Grade 3
Dylan is a third grade student who has been enrolled in Pioneer Scholars since the second grade. When at the Center, Dylan is always quick to share a smile, and his Lead Tutors describe him as extremely creative, caring, and thoughtful. Dylan’s favorite subject is math, and he also really enjoys a new spelling game called Sparkle. Outside of academics, Dylan has pet birds and has enjoyed the chance to show off his favorite feathered friends to his fellow scholars during virtual programming. We’re so lucky to have Dylan in the Emily K Center family.