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News from the Foundation

Posted: July 5, 2022

APS Launches Math Discovery Academy

For students with the potential to solve the problems we currently face and all the problems still to come, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) has launched the Math Discovery Academy, the first of its kind in New Mexico. 

Even though the benefits of attending a math or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp can be beyond calculation, the cost can be too high for many families.  Registration can run up to thousands of dollars per camper, and without easy transportation and scholarships, camps are out of reach for many students.

Knowing there are too many middle school students that have the talent but not the opportunity, the APS Special Education Department researched the concept of offering a math camp to sixth graders who could benefit the most.  After years of research and securing funding and donations, they launched the first Math Discovery Academy this year, serving 65 students.  

Carol Leyendecker, who serves as the APS Gifted Liaison said, “These kids have taken a leap of faith. They had no idea what this program was.  We went into their school, we screened them and tested them and told them this was going to be the most fun they would ever have…and it’s about math.  How many sixth graders would believe something like that?” 

Claudia Gutierrez, the Executive Director of Student Achievement at APS could not suppress her enthusiasm after watching the students engage with each other and their teachers and counselors each day.  She expressed that the students simply love the challenge.  She said, “These are super excited students who came to solve unbelievable math problems.  If they do not get it, they have to go back and figure it out.  They are trying to solve 100 problems during the camp, plus they have their four classes of choice and camp activities such as art, field games, and games and they are having a blast.  They learn problem solving skills and communication skills.  They stick up for each other, help each other.  After this summer, they should be ready for higher order thinking math courses.”

Ms. Leyendecker continued, “Next year what we are hoping is that these kids will be our spokespeople and we will have more support from teachers and principals knowing what the Math Discovery Academy is and we will fill 100 spots.”