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Maces Lane Middle School in Cambridge will have a new after-school program in its spring semester. Students will have the opportunity to sign up to attend the J Noah Skills Academy, where they will …
Maces Lane Middle School in Cambridge will have a new after-school program in its spring semester. Students will have the opportunity to sign up to attend the J Noah Skills Academy, where they will improve their basketball game while also learning valuable project management skills that will help them achieve success in sports, school and future workforce endeavors.
The J Noah Skills Academy is a nonprofit organization founded by former college basketball player Jordan Pearlstein. Pearlstein spent many years as a youth mentor in Baltimore and studied with the Project Management Institute to become a certified associate in project management. The J Noah Skills Academy combines all of Pearlstein’s areas of expertise, teaching student athletes the fundamental concepts of project management through the lens of basketball.
Students who participate in the academy attain the knowledge, self-awareness and self-assessment skills to be able to start and finish projects in all aspects of their lives. These concepts include identifying stakeholders, goal setting, planning and execution, risk management and time management. By introducing these concepts in the context of the game of basketball, student athletes are able to easily relate to the material and can begin putting it into practice within a short period of time.
Pearlstein started the program in 2021 with two high school students. With no permanent location and starting out in the middle of COVID, the academy faced a lot of challenges, but his students were flexible and provided important feedback that helped him hone the curriculum that he uses today. One of those students, who immersed himself in the program and took advantage of all “Coach Jordan” had to offer, has started his freshman year at a Maryland-based college.
One of the most important contributions that the early academy participants made to the program was integrating the use of the PlayStation game NBA 2K22 into their sessions. The game contains troves of information about professional athletes and teams and gives players the ability to conduct their own NBA draft. Through the draft process, students learn to assess their needs, manage risks, make contingency plans and more, all in a format that is fun, engaging and relatable.
In the summer of 2022, the academy partnered with the Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Family YMCA in Cambridge to host its first summer session, which was open to both high school and middle school student athletes. Pearlstein began to notice that the middle schoolers showed a high level of dedication to the program and were quickly picking up the project management fundamentals.
Pearlstein was looking for ways to expand his program to reach more athletes and contacted the leadership at Maces Lane Middle School to see if they would be interested in offering the J Noah Skills Academy to students on location in the school. Principal Patricia Prosser was very excited about the program and asked if Pearlstein would also like to use his basketball expertise to help coach the school’s basketball team.
Tryouts were held recently, and 45 boys showed up in hopes of making the team. Pearlstein hopes that 16 of those athletes will enroll in the J Noah Skills Academy next semester. Based on the enthusiasm he has observed so far, he feels certain he will reach that goal. The academy is actively seeking out an AmeriCorps member to help support the program so that it will have the capacity to help even more students in the future.
For his part, Pearlstein is very excited for this new chapter in the academy’s history. He shares, “To see my idea come to fruition, and to have the students embrace it the way they have, has been incredibly rewarding. I am thrilled to be able to work with even more student athletes to help them learn the skills to achieve success in sports, school and beyond.”
The J Noah Skills Academy is a nonprofit organization. The academy relies on the generosity of local individuals and organizations to operate. To learn more, enroll your child or make a donation, visit jnoahskills.org.