An Interview with Aurelius Henderson, SSA Parent 2011 and 2012 and Colgate University staff member
Q: Why did you send your twin boys to SSA?
A: My sons have done very well in school, so their grades are to the point where I think they can get into some very good schools. I’ve been trying to persuade them [to study for the SAT] for a while. I got them the book; I got them a CD program, but they weren’t doing much…. I thought this program would be more organized, more consistent, and they’d get to meet other great young students.
Q: In what ways did SSA go beyond your expectations?
A: SSA went beyond my expectations for a few reasons. One, my sons are a little bit shy, and I wasn’t sure how they would adapt to being with a group of students who weren’t from the area for 8 hours a day and for three weeks, but the experience they shared with these kids was one of the best experiences they’ve had. They loved interacting with those students, they got close to them, and they actually loved and looked forward to coming to the program each and every day.
Q: What did you hope your sons would get out of camp?
A: As they were attending, I started to recognize that they were getting even more out of it, because they were making new friends, interacting with a diverse group of students and people, and the staff were excellent—and they were starting to come out of their shells, and doing things I didn’t think they were going to do—they were getting much more than just having their SAT scores improve. They gained more comfort with other students, and I was really impressed with that.
Q: What was your impression of the teachers at SSA?
A: The teachers are very learned; they know their stuff. They’re very patient… understanding… and welcoming. … my sons are very shy, and sometimes they can be a little bit picky—but they really loved each and every one of the teachers, and for me to see that—that’s amazing… [The teachers] have the ability to meet a person where they are, as an individual, and draw the best out of them, in ways that I find [the teachers in my sons’ school] have found difficult—maybe because [at SSA] the students get more individual attention [than at their school].
Q: Is camp a good investment?
A: Yes, I definitely think it’s a good investment. One, outside of the SAT score improvement, for this summer, they were able to do something I didn’t think they would enjoy—I thought it would be stressful for them—but they really loved being around the group and the teachers. And second, seeing that they were able to improve so much on their SAT scores—it was definitely worth the investment.
Q: Is there anything you want to add?
A: I want to thank SSA, and Max, and Alyssa and all of the other teachers for the work they did with my sons. It really was a great experience for them, and it was more than just about them improving on the SAT. They got a lot more by being able to interact with the other students and having you as their teachers—you gave them a lot more confidence. Their self-esteem is sometimes low, and their self-confidence [can be as well]. They enjoyed being with you all. You made them feel good about themselves.
Our best testimonial came in 2015 - from one of our kids, Lexi, who was a rising junior in Summer 2014. She went up 290 points from her diagnostic (and keep in mind that, after you've received test prep and are at the top of the curve, those points are far harder to win than the ones in the middle of the curve, so what Lexi did was EVEN MORE AMAZING):
I'm emailing you to let you know that I've recently received a 2360 on the January 2015 SAT, and I really feel like I couldn't have done it without your help. The overall breakdown was 800 CR, 800 Math, and 760 Writing (with a score of 10 on the essay).
Without SSA, I don't think I would have had any motivation to do well on the SAT, nor would I have done well at all. I want to thank you not only for giving me essential study guides over the summer, but for also teaching me that the SAT is something that I shouldn't be scared of or discouraged about. Academically, SSA definitely helped me develop efficient test-taking techniques and a sound knowledge foundation, and it also let me have fun while I was learning.
Again, thank you so much for all the love and help you provided me over the summer. I appreciate it a lot :)
That is literally the best thanks we can get. We play together, we get your scores up, and we all leave having had an unforgettable experience. That's SSA in a nutshell.
Our next quote comes from Leslie, also from Summer 2014!!! Leslie was an incredibly hard worker - someone who wouldn't give up until she achieved her goals.
Oh by the way, my final SAT score was a 2340!!!!!!!
Critical Reading: 800
I really wanted to thank you soo much, as I could not have done it without you or the exceptional team during my time at SSA. <3 I'm forever grateful.
Real talk: Leslie is a rock star. And we're really, really happy to have shared the summer with her - and helped her achieve her goals on the SAT. :) In fact, we loved her so much that she joined the staff in 2017 as an assistant teacher!
Our third best quote EVER comes from Danny, the breakdancer on the right (a rising junior from Summer 2012), who said,
I’ve been to camps for church, sports, and music, so before I came here I was scared because it was all study - but it turned out to be the best camp I’ve been to! I would tell someone who isn’t sure about SAT camp how important the SAT is. If they realize how important it is and they want support and help, then they should come here.
Thanks guys! We couldn't agree more!