Boston Summer Learning Project 2012 [VIDEO]

The video follows the summer experiences of Adrien, a student who took part in a summer learning project created through a partnership between his high school, the Jeremiah E Burke High School, the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) and Freedom House, a community-based organization in the Grove Hall neighborhood of Boston.

Adrien and his classmates met every morning at Roxbury Community College to take part in academic classes tailored to take each of them closer to graduation. In the afternoons, they traveled to paid jobs in the community and at the Boston Public Schools. Once a week, they would assemble in the evening at Freedom House to chart a course for their own future success, and to start to take the practical steps to get themselves there.

As Adrien’s example shows, in Boston, summer offers a vital opportunity for young people to build the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to succeed.

Our approach to summer learning recognizes the importance of sound academic knowledge, and the fact that the summer months can be a critical time to reinforce school year content.  But the Boston approach also focuses on what makes summer different, by intentionally giving young people the chance to learn in new ways, to build strong relationships with their peers and the adults in their lives, and to develop the skills they need to keep moving towards their goals, even when difficulties arise.

New experiences during the summer can go some way to addressing the stark opportunity gap. For some students this involves discovering the city’s outdoor spaces. For others it means taking part in the city’s cultural, creative and historical resources, or working in a professional environment for the first time.  Students get a chance to experience how learning feels beyond the confines of a desk in a classroom, sparking interests and ideas that can start to shape how they see their future selves.

For some students, the experiences that can really open doors come from the people they have the chance to connect with during the summer. Encountering committed caring adults who have the time and drive to help them get to where they need to go can transform a young person’s outlook, and equip them to begin the new school year with an additional source of support when problems arise.