Louisville Learns from Boston’s 5th Quarter Model

Carmen Coleman (Chief Academic Officer – JCPS) speaking with Freedom House students.

On Monday, July 23rd four education administrators from the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville paid a special visit to Boston in hopes of gleaning insights from our 5th Quarter summer learning initiative.

Building on the U.S. Conference of Mayors event held in Boston earlier this summer, cities across the United States have been inspired by the wide array of summer learning opportunities afforded to Boston-area youth. Louisville’s Jefferson County Public Schools, which serves over 100,000 students in 172 schools, are preparing to launch a similar network of summer learning opportunities beginning in the summer of 2019.

In preparation for next summer, these education leaders visited two community-based Summer Learning Academy sites participating in the 2018 5th Quarter of Summer Learning. Their first stop was to DotHouse Health, a holistic community health center that serves 50 Boston students in grades 6-8. This summer, students are exploring the essential question is “What does it take to be a better you?” Our guests observed ELA and math courses in the morning, during which they were able to ask students what they enjoyed best about summer programming and hear how the 5th Quarter feels different than at the traditional school day. Academic programming at DotHouse Health is followed by lunch and then enrichment activities in the afternoon, including sports, art, creative writing, media, finance and health education. Visitors were able to sit down and speak with Michelle Rue, DotHouse Health’s Director of Community Programs and Brie El-Parker, the site’s BPS Coordinator and Dr. William Henderson Inclusion Elementary School teacher. Michelle and Brie provided our guests with a comprehensive overview of their participation in the 5th Quarter, along with thoughts about how school districts and community agencies can work in unison to best connect and serve young people.

After observing the rigorous academic component of the 5th Quarter of Summer Learning, our guests’ next stop was to Freedom House, located in the Grove Hall neighborhood of Roxbury. There, guests were treated to the enrichment aspect of summer programming. At Freedom House, 50 students in grades 9-12 not only engage in dual enrollment coursework at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, but they’re also learning about marketing, branding, and sales in the afternoon. This summer, students will help Freedom House develop and launch a number of new marketing and branding strategies. Our visitors enjoyed the opportunity to see these hands-on enrichment sessions in action. Observing students dive into the art of digital marketing and branding, and practice developing a sales pitch, were among the highlights of the day.

Jefferson County Public Schools staff left not only impressed by the level of attention, detail, and care staff put into their work with youth, but the high level of engagement and connectivity exuded by the young people involved in the 5th Quarter. Our guests returned to Louisville with a number of new  strategies and plans to start cultivating a similarly vast array of summer opportunities for youth. Many thanks to the agencies that hosted this visit and for all of our program partners who have helped elevate Boston as a national leader in summer learning.