A New NPEA Member Spotlight on… Elon Academy!

John Pickett, M. Ed, Assistant Director of Scholar Support

What’s on your desk at the moment?
I always seem to have a bottle of water and a diet coke on standby!  Additionally, I have a few plants and group photos of many of the cohorts of students I have worked with. Our program is in the beginning of “recruitment season” for our next cohort of high school students and I just received our first four applications in the mail yesterday. They are sitting on my desk and I am excited to read them and begin to get to know these students!

What are your goals for this year?
Each year the Elon Academy seems to hit a new record of success with our high school students (all low-income and/or first generation) in terms of academic success, admission success, and scholarship success. My hope is that we continue this. Our scholars raise the bar each year!

What challenges do you or your organization/school face that you were hoping to address by joining NPEA?
We are always looking for the best practices and most innovative ways to support our most marginalized students.

What have you found most helpful since you joined?
The NPEA conference is fantastic! I have found it incredibly useful in terms of everything from networking, to resources, to new ideas, to motivation!

What’s one thing about your background that you’d like to share with the membership?
At this point in my career I have worked with every level of student, from K-5 to middle school to high school and college.  Each time I circle back to work with a group of students from one of these demographics, my time spent with each helps to better inform my approach. I think, for example, it’s valuable for organizations to realize how powerful it can be to bring in someone to work with kindergarten students who has worked with older students, and vice versa. It’s been surprising and so useful.

Describe your program or your work in one sentence.
Elon Academy is a comprehensive college access non-profit helping low-income/first generation students access and succeed in college by providing support, resources, and information.

What’s a hobby you use to relax outside of work?
I’m an avid reader. Ever since I read my first full book on my own as a kid I’ve always had a book to read. Recently I read “Educated” by Tara Westover and “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. I highly recommend both for anyone in NPEA.

What’s your favorite way to stay on top of news about educational access? (Podcasts, Books, the NPEA Twitter account, etc.)
I think I stay most on top of this by making a point to engage with colleagues about current issues. This may be in person at the “water cooler” or on social media or at professional meetings.

If you could be known as an expert in one topic related to educational access, what would it be?
I’d like to be known as an expert in providing the most developmentally appropriate resources to support underrepresented students to college all the way from birth to college graduation. I’m very proud of the professional toolbox I have cultivated on this subject.