“I love the Dream Academy and I have gained interest and I want to learn more. My overall impression is that I believe in myself more.”
“It has given me the tools to succeed in life and college. It has also surrounded with valuable people.”
“You cover what I lack the knowledge to teach and help my child with.”
"You teach my child the things I can’t and the schools don’t because of time and budget cuts.”
“You are the gap filler to things that aren’t necessarily taught school or even home.”
When I think about the impact that Dream Academy has on my family, I want to speak to two different areas – personal and educational aspects. The DA has been instrumental in the lives of my family. My kids started attending in May 2019 and then attended the Summer Camp that was provided in conjunction with Cary Academy. The educational impact of this camp further helped to equip, Cherry and Matthew with the needed mindset as they started their journey at St. David’s in August. As parents, you always want to provide your kids with the best or better than what you had. Being afforded an opportunity to attend a school such as St. David’s, was God’s plan and a result of my kids being a part of DA. To that, I am extremely thankful and grateful to everything that the DA has done for not only my kids but for other kids that have benefited from as well:
I could go on and on, about the impact of the DA but believe that all the above aligns with the mission statement to equip, encourage, empower but also keeps them engaged. I’ve always tried to instill in them to be leaders and not followers. The DA helps to reinforce what they’re being taught at home.
I look forward to seeing what the DA will accomplish under the current leadership in 2020 and beyond. In addition, your works that will continue to prepare our next generation of leaders for success.
Again, I want to thank you for all that you have done and provided for the Palmer family!
On behalf of the students, parents, and staff members of Pleasant Grove Elementary, I am eager to express thanks and heartfelt appreciation to the Pleasant Grove Foundation, specifically The Dream Academy and Lunch Buddy Mentors for embracing the Pleasant Grove Elementary School. The Dream Academy and mentoring program has made significant contributions through service to support the work of the school over the past two years. These actions have initiated a real, meaningful, and transformative process within the school.
Over the past two years, the students within the school have benefited directly from The Dream Academy, and a lunch buddy mentoring program for 4th and 5th grade boys and girls. You see, as a new school, Pleasant Grove Elementary has struggled with establishing its identity with families. The school is close to many amazing things: the airport, Research Triangle Park, amazing commerce, industry and shopping, just not close to many families’ homes. While that distance presents challenges to families, I take it as an opportunity. The true bond of any strong community relies a lot on imagination, partnership, and shared purpose. And my staff and I have been blessed to work together with Reverend Dr. Preston and The Dream Academy. Their efforts have had a direct impact on dozens of families within the school in ways that shape the attitudes, outlook, and educational experiences of students through The Dream Academy and Lunch Buddy mentoring program.
The initial results of this work emerged in the spring of 2018. When I had an 11 year old 5th grader asking me when the next mentor group would be, I knew with certainty that positive connections were being made. When I observed students working on projects that came out of these activities with the volunteers from the Pleasant Grove Foundation, I recognized the spark that was being ignited. When students can talk directly about their aspirations and goals with individuals who have succeeded in careers for business, medicine, education, industry, and innovation it enriches them and lights the start of a pathway forward. In a word, the actions of The Dream Academy and the student mentoring program are tremendous.
I truly appreciate the work and impact that has been initiated by the Pleasant Grove Foundation. It involves time and commitment that goes beyond what I see, and it produces visible results, real and tangible to the students who receive them. The willingness of the Foundation and Reverend Dr. Preston to extend this support means a lot to the school. It is inspiring to witness how the collective commitment of people partnering together, as a community, can make a difference.
In my line of work, educators have devoted a lot of efforts seeking the right instructional strategies to influence student academic growth. But if a solid relationship isn’t cultivated first, and if a student has essential needs that the school or a teacher are missing, then a great failure has occurred, far greater than any concern about a test score or assignment. Once again, a child who does not feel and experience meaningful connections and relationships with adults stands at greater risks of future academic struggles. Considering this, it has been a blessing to partner with the Pleasant Grove Foundation. We share a common link by name and share a common vision for wanting to make a transformative impact within the community. I am eager to continue any and all partnership opportunities with the Foundation. This work can strengthen students and families and positively influence teachers. Thank you!
Burt Batten, Principal
Pleasant Grove Elementary
My journey with the Dream Academy has come a long way. At age 10, I realized I wanted to be an architect. My dream stems from my hobby for drawing and a desire to design things. At age 12, my relationship with God was rooted in my favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.” I periodically met with my Dream Partner, Pastor Classy Preston. She took the time to listen to me, encourage me, to look beyond myself and pray with me.
In 2013, I attended the Legacy of Dreams Award Gala held at the Angus Barns Pavilions. I struck up a conversation with N.C. Representative Paul Stem and revealed to him a “Spoken Dream” of becoming an architect. As it turned out, that conversation began the process for me to have other important meetings and experiences along the way. One month after the Gala, I met with North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest. I also met with an architect in Durham NC and was able to spend the afternoon with him at his place of business. I was a part of an organized tour at North Carolina State University in 2014 to experience the architectural/design world. I attended a N.C. State design camp to learn more about my dream of being an architect.
These events and memories made me the man I am today. I am very grateful for the time I spent during my youth with the Dream Academy. But now, my story takes me to a new passion. Along the way, I discovered I have a gift of empathy and kindness for others. I began to think beyond myself and focused more on wanting to help others and my community. These thoughts all began in a football game at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. I was on the second string of this game. On the sixth play, I tore my ACL. It wasn’t a major loss to the team, it wasn’t a championship game, or any defining moment with a scout in the stands. I was just another athlete getting hurt in the crossfire of an incoming linebacker while I was the lead block for our running back. But that game changed my life in terms of how I saw people every day.
I sat down on the bench while our athletic trainer, Mr. Purdie, evaluated my knee and told me I needed to go to urgent care immediately. Immediately, I didn’t care about us losing or if we scored on that drive, but how this man genuinely cared about my health without question. I was on crutches for a couple of weeks and started physical therapy. Rehab wasn’t about getting a day closer to getting back on the field playing a sport I desperately wanted to play, but instead each day was about getting closer to being the best possible person I could be in life. During rehab, I learned the unwavering commitment my trainer had to his job and realized that while I love to draw, I wanted to use my drive and determination to do for other people what Mr. Purdie did for me. This encounter changed my outlook on life, not so much in the way I view sports, but how I view someone else’s well-being over my own. I started by slowly changing the way I viewed friends, family and loved ones in general. I started putting others before myself, I became more selfless, and strived to be not like the man who opened my eyes but better. I believe everyone has their own problems, not just physical injuries, but emotional, mental, and psychological issues and I want to help build people back from their broken or injured places.
My injury was an eye-opener. While most people have had breakthroughs in life with businesses, new opportunities, and scholarships to dream colleges my experience turned me to the dream I was destined to follow. Since my injury, I have dedicated my life to making people’s lives better overall, and it has pushed me to become a better me. The Dream Academy played a major role in helping me to dream my dreams and to reach for them.
In my lifetime, I have dealt with hardships, insecurities, and tribulations that have been difficult to overcome, and I still have time and will continue to move forward in life. I believe college is going to be the next milestone in which I can grow as a person with people that share the same issues as me and people who can help me as much as I can help them. I want to surround myself with people who are trying to achieve, will achieve, and have achieved their goals to become successful in life. These things were backed and reinforced by my parents, grandparents and Pastor Classy Preston, my dream partner, who helped me along the way, by understanding that someone can change their dream and continue to move forward in life.
I am graduating in May 2020 and headed to North Carolina A&T State University in the fall. My dream and desire is to become a nurse and attend graduate school to become a physician assistant. Who knows, my dream may go beyond that. The Dream Academy and my support system has taken me in and while starting with one dream, let me grow, and equipped and empowered me to find new passions and a new dream!
As a volunteer of The Dream Academy, my responsibilities encompass overseeing the registration desk during the monthly sessions and then enjoying interacting with the Dreamers and their families. I appreciate the community of leaders that are committed to helping children achieve their dreams. My daughter is an active member of the Academy and enjoys the program. They do a phenomenal job of reinforcing what my husband and I are attempting to instill in her as she begins to prepare for her future. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to many more years of being a part of The Dream Academy and serving as needed.
Pleasant Grove Foundation Dream Academy
P.O. Box 1441, Cary, NC 27512-1441
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In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made in Jalen's honor to the Dream Academy. Please click the X in the top right corner of this pop-up window and scroll down.