Natural Classroom : Boston Public Schools, Courageous Sailing Awarded for Summer Learning Program

Special to the Patriot-Bridge

Students from across Boston last week start the “5th Quarter of Learning,” using the city’s amazing natural and local resources as a classroom to have fun, learn critical life skills, and help slow the summer slide.

Boston students, many of whom can’t afford traditional summer programs, joined city, state and national leaders July 10 at Courageous Sailing in the Charlestown Navy Yard to showcase Boston’s role as a leader that is inspiring cities across Massachusetts and around the nation to rethink summer learning and enrichment.

Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond (third from left) and Aaron Dworkin, CEO, National Summer Learning Association (R) with Courageous Sailing students in the Navy Yard on Wednesday, July 10, during a celebration of Boston’s summer learning program.

“My summer learning experiences at Courageous Sailing have taught me skills I will use in the workplace and in any learning environment: to build connections with the people around me, solve problems, step up and take charge when needed,” said Urvi Gipstein, a Courageous Sailing student instructor and rising junior at Boston Latin School.

More than 47,000 students have benefitted from Boston’s summer learning efforts since its launch in 2010, making it a singular success for the students and families of Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and all its partners.

“The Boston Public Schools’ 5th Quarter is a national model for summer learning programming that ensures access to enriching opportunities for every student,” said Supt. Brenda Cassellius. “I’m so grateful to Boston After School & Beyond and all of our partner organizations that contribute to this community effort, enabling our youth to remain active and engaged, learning all year round.”

At the event, held during National Summer Learning Week, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) recognized Boston’s national leadership, acknowledging its model as one that other cities can embrace.

“Boston is leading the way on summer learning,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of NSLA. “It is a shining example of how a city can mobilize its resources to ensure that kids have incredible learning opportunities like the ones offered here at Courageous Sailing.”

Boston’s summer learning system, now known as the 5th Quarter of Learning, has tallied over $20 million in public and private investment, including nearly $3.2 million from BPS this year.

“The Department is pleased to support the expansion of summer learning initiatives across the Commonwealth,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said. “This investment will help keep students learning, growing, questioning and collaborating in the months when school is out.”

“The growth of the 5th Quarter shows what can happen when leaders from the public, philanthropic, and nonprofits leaders pursue a shared goal over time,” said Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond.

Boston After School & Beyond, which co-manages the 5th Quarter of Learning with the Boston Public Schools, released a “Summer For All” report at the event, detailing lessons learned from the initiative’s 10-year history.

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