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A+ Summer

Education Unlimited -
For students who are driven by creative ideas or intuitive talents, who are above average in the classroom and want a fun, intellectual challenge this summer, A+ Summer is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be immersed in an environment that encourages advanced thinking, creative problem solving, and a lifelong love of learning.

Students have the exclusive opportunity to live and study with like-minded peers at Stanford University, the academic heart of American innovation and entrepreneurship, or at Yale University, home to one of America's longest tenured academic traditions. With the help of a dynamic staff of dedicated “live-in” instructors, participants will push beyond standard school curriculum and learn to think outside of the box. Our stimulating courses build student proficiency in the logic, critical thinking, and writing skills that are essential for academic success at any level.

A+ Summer is divided into three separate sessions- one for middle school students, one for 9th and 10th graders, and one for entering 11th and 12th graders. Each program boasts an exciting schedule of classes and unforgettable recreational activities, including Bay Area excursions, guest speakers and daily entertainment. To learn more about a particular session, click on the pertinent link below.

  • The A+ Summer Pre-College program engages 11th and 12th grade students in college-level academic activities that build the practical skills necessary for college success.

  • The A+ Summer High School program challenges 9th and 10th grade students in high-level academic activities that develop skills that promote high school success and achievement.

  • The A+ Summer Middle School program challenges 6th to 8th grade students to design and execute their own solutions to contemporary problems, as they explore their potential as inventors, detectives, and strategists.

Admission Requirements A+ Summer programs are selective. Students must demonstrate academic abilities by submitting a copy of their report card or transcript evidencing a 3.0 GPA or equivalent. Exceptions to this rule are made on a case-by-case basis and require a writing sample.

“The bonds and relationships that I formed with fellow students is going to be ever lasting…This whole experience is one of the most beneficial and rewarding things in my life.” – Manasi Ghatge, A+ Pre-College camper

“I expected camp to be filled with nerdy kids and I was completely blown out of the water. The classes were interesting and captivating, and the people were some of the best I have ever met.” - Arielle Zina, A+ High School camper


2014 A+ Summer Staff Members Include:

Education Unlimited - Elizabeth Bull (Camp Director)

Elizabeth Bull, Camp Director

Elizabeth Bull is a writer and filmmaker. Her writing has been published in various journals, including H.O.W. Journal, Third Coast, Gulf Coast, and the LA Review of Books, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She’s worked in original series development at AMC during the creation of “Mad Men and “Breaking Bad,” and has written and directed several short films. Recently, she co-wrote the feature film “Song of Sway Lake,” and regularly collaborates with writers/directors as a reader and guide. Elizabeth has also co-produced two feature films, and a television series for Fuse.

She graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television with a BA and The New School with an MFA. She studied directing at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology on a Rotary International Fellowship and taught writing at the University of Zadar in Croatia on a Fulbright Fellowship.  Elizabeth has taught writing with Education Unlimited for seven years, and started directing the A+ and Emerging Writers Institute programs in 2010.  


Education Unlimited - Aaron Walker (Camp Director and PSAT and Writing Instructor)

Aaron Walker, Camp Director and PSAT and Writing Instructor

 

Dr. Walker earned his B.A. in English with Honors at the Arizona State University (ASU). He acquired both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Southern California (USC).
 
He currently serves as an Assistant Director and Program Specialist with the USC McNair Scholars Program, Office of Undergraduate Programs, a Division of the USC Office of the Provost. His responsibilities include graduate school advising, teaching writing and research methods, program planning, and fiscal and budget management. 
 
As an instructor, advisor, and coordinator, he has acquired extensive experiences working with high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. He has taught and advised high school students preparing for college, undergraduates preparing for graduate school, and graduate students preparing their research for publications and conferences. The student populations he has served over the years have been truly diverse in every aspect, including: 
domestic and international students; students from historically underrepresented minority backgrounds; students coming from low to high socioeconomic households; students designated as academically gifted; and students with 
distinct learning disabilities. 
 
In the capacity of an academic writing and research methods instructor, Dr. Walker has taught and advised USC Undergraduates (McNair Scholars) and USC Ph.D. Students (EDGE Fellows). He is well-versed on research writing and 
protocols, familiar with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches.
 
Dr. Walker is a distinguished debater, participating in debate teams where he has competed nationally during his high school and undergraduate years. During his last year in high school he was recruited by UC Berkeley, USC, and ASU for 
their debate teams (he decided to attend ASU). As an undergraduate and throughout his graduate school years he assumed a leadership role as a debate coach for high school youth competing in local and national-level debate tournaments. 
 
While at USC, Dr. Walker has designed and taught classes on argumentative writing, research methods, and critical analysis. Between 2006 and 2011, he was an assistant lecturer with the USC Writing Program. In 2008, he began serving 
in an administrative capacity as a coordinator, where he supervised and mentored other writing instructors in course development and management. Additionally, he was a liaison between the Writing Department and USC faculty that 
teach related courses, and was also responsible for attending meetings with department chairs. 
 
 


Education Unlimited - John Kephart III (Research Instructor)

John Kephart III, Research Instructor

Dr. John Kephart received his B.A. and M.A. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. He finished his Ph.D. at USC in 2008, with an emphasis on Rhetorical Theory and Criticism and Gender Studies. 

Born in sunny Southern California, and raised in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, John Kephart III is a Los Angeles native who has never (yet) broken a bone and loves the Los Angeles Dodgers and competitive debate.

Much to his father’s dismay, debate led not to a career in law but to a passion for teaching and working with students. John blends theoretical inquiry with practical application to create a collaborative learning environment devoted to critical thinking. He has taught a wide range of courses, including Argumentation, Gender and Media, Rhetorical Theory, and Small Group and Team Communication. 

He is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of the Speech and Debate Team at California State University, Northridge. John has taught a variety of classes and curricula, spanning from middle school students through graduate students, and has coached competitors of all ages.

This will be John’s sixth summer teaching with Education Unlimited, and his 3rd year teaching the A+ Pre-College Workshop for high school students. In teaching college students at both the graduate and undergraduate level, John’s philosophy is based around students’ active engagement in their learning. Rather than merely providing students with information to be memorized,

John focuses on encouraging students to find their own voice and perspective on contemporary issues, helping them to be more avid learners, and more engaged citizens. Viewing writing as a process of exploration and discovery, John can’t wait to find out where research will lead he and his students this summer, and is excited about working with the motivated students in the A+ High School and A+ Pre-College Programs!


Education Unlimited - Katherine McDonald (Assistant Director)

Katherine McDonald, Assistant Director

Katherine McDonald

Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, Katherine currently lives in Oakland, California.  In 2011, she graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor's degree in English and Music.  While at Wesleyan, she tutored other students in English and music theory.   This past spring, she received her Master's degree in music composition from Mils College, where she focused on songwriting, multimedia collaboration, and taught musicianship at the undergraduate level.  She was also the 2014 recipient of the Paul Merritt Henry prize, which recognizes excellence in composition for string instruments.  In addition to songwriting and composing for dance and video, Katherine is interested in making video art of her own, cartooning and sculpting with clay and wood. 


Education Unlimited - Dylan Neely (Counselor/Assistant Director)

Dylan Neely, Counselor/Assistant Director

Dylan is excited to return for a second summer with Education Unlimited!  Dylan is a composer, violinist, and sound artist.  He writes music for theater, film, art installations, and chamber ensembles.  His work has been performed by groups including Quartetto Indaco, Mills Contemporary Performace Ensemble, ills Impropvisation Workshop, and Caedmon Quartet, and played by The American Composers' Orchestra and The Salome Chamber Orchestra.  Dylan is a former Fullbright Fellow to Servia and past participant of the highSCORE Festival, the New York Youth Symphony Composition Program, and The Watermill Center's International Summer Program.   He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Bard College at Simon's Rock and MFA from Mills College.

 


Education Unlimited - Victoria Obenchain (Science Instructor)

Victoria Obenchain, Science Instructor

 

Victoria Obenchain – Lead Instructor

Vickie Obenchain has been teaching for Education Unlimited since 2008, teaching not only with the Sally Ride program as a Marine Science and Astronomy instructor,  but also the A+ Middle School program.

She has two degrees in Environmental Science, a Bachelors of Science from Elon University in North Carolina, and a Masters from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

While she enjoys teaching during the summers for EU, she teaches the rest of the year at an independent school in Moraga, Ca. as their Kindergarten-8th grade science teacher.


Education Unlimited - Brett Shanley (A+ Summer Pre College Instructor)

Brett Shanley, A+ Summer Pre College Instructor

Brett Shanley's love of writing originates with high school forensics, where he received awards at both the state and national level. After studying at the University of Oregon and Germany's Universität Heidelberg, Brett pursued a career in journalism. From freelance work to full-time editorial positions at a London literary journal and a travel magazine in San Francisco, his knowledge of writing grew.  Eventually Brett left his native Northern California for New York City, earning an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing from The New School. Being a student again made him decide to become a teacher.  The A+ program will mark his fifth consecutive summer leading pre-college courses, outside of which he works as an English professor at Manhattan's Pace University. In the fall Brett will be one of six students beginning the English Education Ph.D. program at Columbia University.


Education Unlimited - Jake Wasserman (Public Speaking and Leadership Camp Director)

Jake Wasserman, Public Speaking and Leadership Camp Director

Jake Wasserman is excited to be returning for his 16th summer with Education Unlimited, and to be meeting one of your children as his 3000th camper.  Since 1997, Jake has participated in the launching of 6 EU programs, including the first Public Speaking and Computer camps, the first Elementary camp, and now the High School Leadership camp. During the September to May "off-season," Jake works on college readiness, career preparation, and civic development for students in the Oakland Unified School District.  He is currently a graduate student at Mills College, pursuing a joint MBA and Educational Leadership MA, focusing on the role of public school as the incubator for future citizens.  He is proud to be a first generation Oaklander, a second generation UC undergrad, and an ongoing contributor to the Black Rock City temporary autonomous zone, a participant research lab experiment in volunteerism conducted by 50,000 people each year in the white sands desert of north west Nevada.  He will be the lead instructor for the group projects during the leadership camp at Stanford, and will be helping students translate their passions for change into a workable strategy and design, learning along the way how to amplify their own efforts through the contributions of others.


We will continue to add additional staff members as enrollment and availability dictate. Details are posted on additional staff members as they are confirmed.


2013 A+ Summer Staff Members Include:

Education Unlimited - Elizabeth Bull (Camp Director)

Elizabeth Bull, Camp Director

Elizabeth Bull is a writer and filmmaker. Her writing has been published in various journals, including H.O.W. Journal, Third Coast, Gulf Coast, and the LA Review of Books, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She’s worked in original series development at AMC during the creation of “Mad Men and “Breaking Bad,” and has written and directed several short films. Recently, she co-wrote the feature film “Song of Sway Lake,” and regularly collaborates with writers/directors as a reader and guide. Elizabeth has also co-produced two feature films, and a television series for Fuse.

She graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television with a BA and The New School with an MFA. She studied directing at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology on a Rotary International Fellowship and taught writing at the University of Zadar in Croatia on a Fulbright Fellowship.  Elizabeth has taught writing with Education Unlimited for seven years, and started directing the A+ and Emerging Writers Institute programs in 2010.  



Education Unlimited - Samuel Haley-Hill (Public Speaking and Acting Instructor)

Samuel Haley-Hill, Public Speaking and Acting Instructor

Sam Haley-Hill graduated from University of California at Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (2006).

 
He then attended Brown University/Trinity Rep where he earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting.
 
He has performed as a professional actor in front of audiences all over the world.  As a teacher, he has worked in the United States and Hong Kong teaching debate, English, and Drama. For the past several years Sam has taught acting at the collegiate level and is currently teaching Public Speaking at UC Berkeley. 


Education Unlimited - Taylor Halsey (Assistant Director/Instructional Asst.)

Taylor Halsey, Assistant Director/Instructional Asst.

Taylor Hasley – Minor Workshop Facilitator

Taylor Halsey is a senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) in Pomona, CA.  She is originally from Los Angeles, CA.   Currently she is studying Biotechnology and pursuing two minors in Chemistry and Science, Technology, and Society. This fall, she will be applying to graduate programs in Biotechnology and her ultimate career goal is to work in the biotechnology industry. This is her second year working for Education Unlimited at the Sally Ride Science Camps and she has thoroughly enjoyed her time with EU so far!

Prior to EU, she was a residential Girl Scout camp counselor for the Girl Scout Council of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA). During the school year, she volunteers with GSGLA as a senior mentor for older girls. She also has been very involved with the student government for the College of Science at Cal Poly Pomona and has served as Director of Community Service and Vice President. One of her favorite extracurricular activities is mentoring an all-girl robotics team based in Pasadena, CA.  It is a passion of hers to be able to share her love of science with others and she looks forward to many more opportunities to do so in the years to come.


Education Unlimited - John Kephart III (Research Instructor)

John Kephart III, Research Instructor

Dr. John Kephart received his B.A. and M.A. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. He finished his Ph.D. at USC in 2008, with an emphasis on Rhetorical Theory and Criticism and Gender Studies. 

Born in sunny Southern California, and raised in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, John Kephart III is a Los Angeles native who has never (yet) broken a bone and loves the Los Angeles Dodgers and competitive debate.

Much to his father’s dismay, debate led not to a career in law but to a passion for teaching and working with students. John blends theoretical inquiry with practical application to create a collaborative learning environment devoted to critical thinking. He has taught a wide range of courses, including Argumentation, Gender and Media, Rhetorical Theory, and Small Group and Team Communication. 

He is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of the Speech and Debate Team at California State University, Northridge. John has taught a variety of classes and curricula, spanning from middle school students through graduate students, and has coached competitors of all ages.

This will be John’s sixth summer teaching with Education Unlimited, and his 3rd year teaching the A+ Pre-College Workshop for high school students. In teaching college students at both the graduate and undergraduate level, John’s philosophy is based around students’ active engagement in their learning. Rather than merely providing students with information to be memorized,

John focuses on encouraging students to find their own voice and perspective on contemporary issues, helping them to be more avid learners, and more engaged citizens. Viewing writing as a process of exploration and discovery, John can’t wait to find out where research will lead he and his students this summer, and is excited about working with the motivated students in the A+ High School and A+ Pre-College Programs!


Education Unlimited - Victoria Obenchain (Science Instructor)

Victoria Obenchain, Science Instructor

 

Victoria Obenchain – Lead Instructor

Vickie Obenchain has been teaching for Education Unlimited since 2008, teaching not only with the Sally Ride program as a Marine Science and Astronomy instructor,  but also the A+ Middle School program.

She has two degrees in Environmental Science, a Bachelors of Science from Elon University in North Carolina, and a Masters from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

While she enjoys teaching during the summers for EU, she teaches the rest of the year at an independent school in Moraga, Ca. as their Kindergarten-8th grade science teacher.


Education Unlimited - Maurisa Thompson (Prep Camp Excel Writing Instructor)

Maurisa Thompson, Prep Camp Excel Writing Instructor

Maurisa Thompson

Maurisa Thompson was born and raised in San Francisco, where she began writing poetry with her spelling words in the 4th grade. She graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied creative writing, and UC Berkeley, where she earned her M.A. in Education. She is a former student-teacher-poet of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, where she learned that “poetry means taking control of the language of your life,” and that poetry can create what Jordan called “the beloved community,” in which people from different backgrounds can come together and learn from one another while healing and addressing injustice. She currently works as a literacy teacher in San Francisco, and as as an editorial assistant for the Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research and the Black Scholar Press. She is member of Librotraficante BayArea Califas, a local chapter of a national movement of poets and writers raising awareness of the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona through public readings and activism around the banned books. Her published poems can be found in The Pedestal Magazine and Caxixi: International Capoeira Angola Foundation Newsletter.



Upcoming Camps

A+ Summer High School

A+ Summer High School challenges rising 9th and 10th grade students with high-level academic activities that develop the skills needed for high school success and achievement. Over the course of seven days, students will attend classes in advanced argumentative writing, critical reading, and logic/problem solving. Students will also receive seminars and lectures covering study skills and strategies such as time management, note taking and course planning.

The progr...

A+ Summer Leadership

New for the 2013 Summer Season: Leadership programs for high school and middle school students!

We developed our summer leadership training programs around the premise that students should strive to be effective leaders who demonstrate excellence by their approach and by their accomplishment -- the kind of leaders that, by virtue of their ability to lead and superior service, will prompt a teacher to write them an uncommonly powerful letter of recommendat...

A+ Summer Middle School

A+ Summer Middle School immerses rising 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in an environment that encourages advanced thinking, creative problem solving, and a lifelong love of learning. For seven days, students will explore their potential as inventors, detectives, and strategists. Interdisciplinary classes will strengthen students’ talents in reading, writing, math, and science, while pushing them to employ these skills in new and imaginative ways.

Every morni...

A+ Summer Pre-College

A+ Summer Pre-College Rising 11th and 12th grade students prepare for college-level academics and build skills to qualify for top colleges at A+ Summer Pre-College, held on the campuses of Stanford University and Yale University. Students attend courses in logic, research, writing, and presentations and develop the vocabulary, problem solving and critical reading skills necessary for success on exams and in college-level courses.

Students from even the best high sc...