Not your traditional summer school
For many families, summer is a time when children take well-deserved breaks from the rigors of school to explore new interests though travel, camp experiences, and cultural excursions. These experiences afford students opportunities to extend traditional learning, using the world as their classroom and the sky as their limit.
But not all families are so fortunate. In fact, for some 25 million students in America, a more dismal phenomenon brews, threatening academic strides and further broadening the achievement gap in the “home of the brave.”
According to the National Summer Learning Association, “summer learning loss is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth, and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate.”
Friendship Public Charter School (Friendship) witnessed these conditions firsthand and responded with an effective experience that yields promising results. Having revamped the traditional summer school model, quelling old stigmas that have inclined many students to opt out of summer learning, Friendship created its Summer Learning Academy (SLA). Using data to tailor project-based learning experiences, Friendship engages more than 1,200 students from pre-school to grade 12 each summer through SLA.
“Traditionally, summer school provides second chances to students who require remediation in core classes,” said Friendship Director of Extended Learning Programs Michael Robinson. “Our approach has evolved. SLA provides exciting learning experiences for all Friendship students. From science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes to college and career awareness workshops and trips, SLA provides experiences for all students, despite their achievement levels.”
With just a few weeks before SLA begins on June 27, Friendship’s Office of Extended Learning has developed a month-long learning program, which includes engaging classes, inquiry-based excursions and an array of cultural and social experiences designed to give students the very best platform for success.
According to Deputy Director of Extended Learning Programs Shakira Hemphill, Friendship CEO-Elect Patricia Brantley is committed to providing Friendship students unparalleled learning opportunities.
“Ms. Brantley wants us to give students the very best of ourselves as educators and mentors,” said Hemphill. “She believes extended learning is an added opportunity to provide environments where students thrive and become confident learners.”
SLA also exposes rising sixth and ninth graders to the rigors of middle and high school through its summer bridge programs. Summer bridge students get a glimpse into the kinds of cultural and academic opportunities they will experience the following school year.
CEO-Elect Brantley affirmed summer learning is central to Friendship’s academic model: “SLA is an integral tool toward closing the achievement gap and building confidence among Friendship students. Our data shows that students who struggle during the school year make significant gains in core subject areas during our Summer Learning Academy,” said Brantley. “When our summer students return to school proficient in skills they didn’t have before, they learn that things that seem impossible are possible. They begin to believe in their own potential, and strive higher.”
For more information on Friendship’s Summer Learning Academy, please click here.