MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Athletes Committed to Educating Students, or ACES, is the name of a group you’ll hear on WCCO a lot this week.

ACES is the recipient of the ice fishing experience on the WCCO rooftop. Over the next week, we’ll have some big names trying to catch big fish.

ACES is a unique non-profit — they use athletes and sports experiences to help teach math and social skills to middle school students. It’s an intense program.

Four days a week, kids get specialized lessons at Boys and Girls Clubs across the Twin Cities. Jayda is part of ACES in east St. Paul.

“My goal for math is to try my hardest even though it’s going to be really hard,” she said.

Staff teach specialized curriculum, because how kids do in middle school math is a big predictor of their future. Now, Jayda is excelling — and not just in math.

“I feel like even compared to this summer, her leadership qualities have grown and she’s using these words like ‘I’m gonna calm down, I’m gonna take myself out of this situation,’ or, ‘I’m going to be a better person,” ACES staff member Jaynesha Jackson said.

Jackson grew up in the area and says she’s answered a unique and special calling.

“I think what makes ACES most different is we are teaching academic and social, emotional things,” she said. “So teaching kids to use perseverance and determination, and also teaching them math, and how to use those skills in the real world.”

And they get specific.

“One person who comes up a lot in our breaking barriers unit is Jackie Robinson because, of course, he broke the color barrier,” Jackson said.

But the lessons aren’t the only thing that keeps Jayda coming back.

“ACES is a fun place where you can just go learn and just be yourself,” she said.

“That’s kind of what ACES is all about,” Jackson said, “making our students become the best students that they can be, and I think she’s a testament to that work.”

ACES works with athletes from all 6 major sports teams in town to mentor and tutor kids. A $25 donation provides ten ACES All-Star students with pencils and notebooks for the year. Click here to donate.

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