Program Profile: Learning Expands Beyond the Classroom as IBA Students Explore their Community

Students at Summer Learning Project site Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) have had a great first two weeks of summer learning full of field trips, learning, and the arts. With the essential question, “What is community?” in mind, IBA students have trekked through the South End to explore new areas of their community and meet the people who make it special.

This week, students traveled to the South End branch of the Boston Public Library, where they got the opportunity to talk to the librarian about what community is and their place within it, followed by a lesson about the library. The students also visited a Fair Foods site in Villa Victoria, where they helped organize produce, and the Area D4 Police Station in the South End. All the while, they’ve been using books and other resources to learn more about the individuals they’ve met and their professions.

In between their community-based learning and math and ELA lessons, students also have the chance to channel their creative energy through arts integration. Each week, they work on a project that combines writing with an artistic component. These weekly tasks are then compiled into a book which is bound published at the end of the summer. Students will receive a copy to take home, and the Boston Public Library receives a copy as well, therefore storing a direct contribution from each student to their community.

Shannon Hayes, the IBA Site Coordinator, recognizes the importance of holistic, arts-influenced education.

“Sometimes reading is frustrating for a kid, so they get relief through the art, or sometimes art is frustrating and they relieve that with a math lesson,” Hayes said.

With quality programming comes social-emotional support—something IBA students surely benefit from. Hayes stresses the value of “making sure that each kid feels like they have adults that care about them and that what they have to say matters. It’s okay if they’re frustrated, but there are ways for them to learn how to cope with their feelings, deal with their feelings, and channel their energy into positive ways so that they can produce writing, feel good about what they’re doing, and make art.”