Our Stories

Research project helps students practice public speaking skills

Preparing students for success in rigorous college prep high school programs and beyond requires more than just academic enrichment. It also means teaching scholars how to speak confidently and present their ideas effectively.

No one understands this better than Reach for Excellence language arts teacher, Ms. Fatima Cheffen. Ms. Cheffen, who recently retired after a 15-year career with DeKalb and Rockdale County public schools, has been teaching with Reach for seven years and will be back again this summer. Ms. Cheffen states, “My main goal…is to make sure that my students use their voices. They have so much to say.”

One way that Ms. Cheffen helped this year’s 8th graders learn to speak confidently was through an in-depth research project. Students spent a portion of their 16 Saturday sessions researching an aspect of mental health. In addition, the class read and discussed “Torment: A Novella by H.D. Hunter”. The scholars then created a trifold or poster and gave a presentation to the class where Ms. Cheffen and classmates asked the students questions about the project and their findings. Researching a topic and creating a presentation are certainly important skills to master. However, standing in front of a group, confidently presenting your project and fielding questions is probably the most important learning of all.

Ms. Cheffen states of her students, “They have a story to tell, and this world isn’t going to know their story if they aren’t confident within themselves and who they are.” All of us at Reach for Excellence could not agree more. We look foward to hearing more from these scholars in the future!