Site Manager Summer Institute: Power Skills for Student Success

Summer learning is now poised to happen across Greater Boston. It’s happening in schools, including through the district summer school partnership between Boston Public Schools and BELL. It’s happening on natural reservations, like Hale Reservation in Westwood and Camp Ponkapoag in the Blue Hills. It’s happening on college campuses, like MathPOWER at Northeastern or the RAMP Program at Wentworth. And summer learning is even happening on two islands, with Thompson Island Outward Bound and Camp Harborview. At all of these distinct locations, providers are unified in their commitment to closing the opportunity gap, implementing the same measurement tools, and working together towards continuous improvement.

It will culminate this summer with the 2015 Boston Summer Learning Community attaining collective impact. This year, the Community will feature 40 organizations, working in collaboration with Boston Public Schools, serving over 5,000 students across 75 sites this summer. We were pleased to have over 100 representatives from all of these sites joining us yesterday and today at our Site Manager Summer Institute to collaboratively prepare for summer 2015.

Yesterday night, Boston’s Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey delivered poignant remarks, calling upon the entire Summer Learning Community to help re-imagine what a broader, multi-dimensional education system could look like. “Learning today looks nearly identical to how it did 100 years ago. But a lot has changed since then — there is a lot more need to advance the STEM fields and and cultivate talent to compete in today’s global economy. Yet, the school system is stuck in the past,” said Dorsey. “We must work in partnership to truly modernize when, where, and how learning can happen.”

According to Dorsey, summer learning is well positioned to help drive this change. Rather than the traditional three R’s of education, summer learning allows us to tackle three new goals: “rigor, relevance and real-world experience.”

The goal of the two-day Institute was to provide site managers with best practices in academic content delivery, student socio-emotional growth, and program quality to help inform program planning and their work with teachers, enrichment staff, and ultimately students.

Based on feedback from the Community, all of the Institute’s sessions were focused on four power skills: critical thinking, relationships, perseverance, and self regulation. Many thanks to our excellent workshop facilitators: the Program in Education, Afterschool, and Resiliency (PEAR); the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST); the Academic Response and Transformation Team at Boston Public Schools; Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center; Hale Reservation; the Q.E.D. Foundation; the Museum of Science; the Center for Collaborative Education; Playworks Massachusetts; and the Sarah Greenwood School

The four power skills are identifiable and measurable, and represent student skill domains in which a summer program can have a profound impact. These four skills span multiple grade levels, and have a meaningful correlation with student success in school, work, and life. Upon the conclusion of the Institute, participants left with a full toolkit to help empower their site, their staff, and their students to enjoy a successful summer.