Athletes and Influencers Uplift Camelot Education Excel Middle Years Academy Students During Shutdown
As soon as the coronavirus school building shutdown began, Camelot Education’s Excel Middle Years Academy found creative ways to motivate and inspire its students. The school turned to social media to reach its students with important messages of persistence, discipline, and positivity.
“Our overall focus during the transition was to incorporate everything that we were doing with our programs prior to the pandemic,” said Milton Alexander, Deputy Superintendent. “We wanted to take our model and implement it virtually. Our team was very creative and determined to find what would be most beneficial. That’s how we concluded that using our Instagram and other social media platforms would be highly effective.”
Excel Middle Years Academy engaged with athletes and influencers well before the pandemic to incorporate them into the current academic lessons. When distance learning began, Camelot needed to find creative ways to allow these influencers to help motivate students and keep them engaged.
“Our original goal was to get the players and motivational speakers to come to our school,” said Sadiqa Lucas, Excel Middle Years Academy Executive Director. “Once COVID-19 hit, we knew it would still be beneficial if these individuals would send videos with a positive message. We wanted them to reach our students to help make sure they stay safe and to make sure they understand we are going through a pandemic together at this time.”
Lucas was inspired to find that athletes and influencers were very committed to helping.
“Everyone wanted to help. They really appreciated that we wanted them to be themselves and say things from the heart,” said Lucas. “When athletes hear that, it puts them at ease. A lot of these athletes have endured obstacles growing up, so they serve as role models for our kids. They were enthusiastic to support our remote learning program and our social-emotional educational model. It blew up bigger than we expected.” Athlete and influencer messages were consistent: resilience, focus, and persistence.
Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles running back, recorded his video on a sunny day. “Keep going,” he says. “Don’t let coronavirus shatter your dreams. Stay the course.”
Anthony Levine of the Baltimore Ravens takes a sympathetic tone. “This is real. A lot of people are losing loved ones,” he says into the camera.
But in his view, the pandemic shut down will not go on forever. When things get back to normal, Levine tells students “we will need to hit the ground running,” and that “this too shall pass.” Similar to Clement, Levine advises students to see the long-term and do what is necessary to meet goals.
Levine also sees opportunity during this time. “Use this time to spend time with your family. Spend time with your brother. Spend time with your sister. Encourage somebody.” The lesson: even in a hard time, you have the opportunity to do something positive for and with others.
Filmmaker Overtime Larry’s video is short and sweet.
“Heavy love from Overtime Larry. Stay active. Stay on top of your school work. Go get it. Let’s go, fam.”
Washington Mystics star Aerial Powers’ message is to keep your mind sharp and stick together. She urges students to keep fighting and tells them that we will get through this.
Each video serves to show students that everyone is in this together. For the most part, the athletes recording the video are at home sporting everyday clothing, not the uniforms in which students normally see them.
The videos received a lot of viewers and attention from students, parents, and staff.
“There was a buzz around it,” said Alexander. “I wasn’t a heavy user on Instagram before this, but when I saw the influence, it was powerful.”
The videos are complemented by motivational quotations in other Instagram messages that are posted throughout the month.
All of the sentiment expressed by the stars in the videos helped Excel Middle Years Academy students stay engaged during a time when it was easy to ignore school. Camelot Education teaches students to focus on the long-term and make their dreams a reality no matter how hard the obstacles. The school utilizes staff and resources in flexible ways that respond to student needs and prepare them for the high school selection process within the School District of Philadelphia.
Camelot Excel Middle Years Academy students can expect more virtual engagement from their school.
“We will continue collaborating with clear vision with all staff throughout the summer,” said Alexander. “We want to help our kids through this new norm. Since they are on social media daily, we will use new interventions and work with more motivational speakers.”