Summer Learning Project: PIC – Freedom House – Burke High School

A chorus of excitement and enthusiasm punctuated the lecture hall of Roxbury Community College’s academic building on August 13, as the Burke High School – Boston PIC – Freedom House Summer Learning partnership was on full display.

With State Representative Alice Peisch  (who chairs the Joint Committee on Education), her staff, and several local funders and partners in attendance, Burke High School students performed their weekly check in – describing the work they’ve done in daily academic classes, weekly workshops at the Freedom House, and their daily job placements at local organizations.

Each student walked confidently to the podium and stated “Good morning” – to which the crowd responded “Good morning!” in unison. Student speakers then stated their name and announced their intention of “checking in,” to which the crowd echoed “Check in!” as a booming rally cry.

Student speakers described one of their classes at RCC – geometry, advanced algebra, MCAS prep, or college experience – or weekly workshops at the Freedom House, where students learn life skills, study skills, and college prep.  Students also discussed their work placements at organizations such as the YMCA, United Housing, and the Boston Public Schools.  The college experience class punctuated the check-in session with a group poem about their learning over the summer, spelling out the words “Faith” and “Courage” with placards to highlight their takeaways heading into the fall.

The visiting adults followed suit, as Representative Peisch and others checked in (“Check in!”) and engaged the students in some Q&A. Throughout the Q&A, students emphasized the patience and commitment of the adult staff, and how summer learning has provided an opportunity to become college and work ready. “This program has showed me what it means to be responsible and professional,” commented one student. Said another:  “I’ve recognized the skills I need to be a good college student.”

When asked how the program has affected their personal goals, one student replied, “I’ve transitioned from a passive learner to an active learner. I’ve learned better time management skills and critical thinking skills.” Said another student, “This program has been eye opening. It’s prepared me to be a professional.”

Representative Peisch and others also visited State Street later in the day to meet current or former Burke High students working through the PIC.  Five students – three of whom will be seniors at the Burke in the fall, and two of whom are heading to college – reinforced the value of the summer work experience. Students discussed the importance of time management, building relationships with co-workers, and mastering new computer and technological skills.

From the rousing check in at Roxbury Community College to the State Street visit, observers witnessed firsthand the Burke-PIC-Freedom House partnership’s focus on preparing students to excel in the classroom, community, and workplace.