According to a newsletter from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, students who do not engage their mind during the summer lose 2.6 months of mathematical fluency. Students who do not read during the summer lose about the same amount of time in reading fluency. The majority of students at Hamilton School do not have the opportunity to engage their minds over the summer.
Therefore we created SummerHawks and SummerBridge.
The Opportunity Gap is most glaring during the summer. SummerHawks supplements the math, science, and reading skills of our students and inspires the students with robotics, coding, stem challenges, chess, art, athletics, maker lab, cooking, environmental science and more for 140 of our 2nd-8th grade students at Hamilton. Often times folks will tell us that our students are fortunate because even though many live in low income households, they are in the middle of a wealthy county and by virtue of that, the schools are good. The answer to this is complicated. Yes, it is true that the schools are good, however, often times it is even more difficult for our kids as they matriculate to high school because they leave the supportive and nurturing environment of Hamilton to compete with kids that have had academic and athletic supplemental training since they were as young as three. There is no way to compete with this unless we provide them with something similar. Many Marin County families participate in academic and athletic programs and activities during the summer. Our kids do not. Many of our kids are home alone playing video games and watching television. If they are too young to stay home alone they often will accompany their parent to work and wait until they are finished.
We partnered with Bay Area Community Resources (BACR) to provide this program. BACR is a non profit organization in San Rafael that provides after school and summer enrichment for over 30 public schools in the bay area and have had great success with their students. You can review their program at www.bacr.org
Thanks to the support of many, we were able to create and fund academic summer programs in 2018 and 2019 for 100 of our 4th-8th grade students at Hamilton. It was a great success. Summer 2020 would have been our third year of SummerHawks, but unfortunately due to the pandemic we were not able to provide the program. We resumed the SummerHawks program in the summer of 2021 to great success, and with our summer 2022 program we saw our highest attendance yet...125 students! Our 2023 SummerHawks program surpassed all previous iterations, showcasing significant enhancements and an extraordinary level of student engagement, effort, and motivation. As the program progressed, it became evident that the students were not just participants but true scholars. This was not as evident in past programs.
If you are interested in being a part of SummerHawks, we are always looking for classroom teachers and aides. Please contact Michele Huff at email@example.com.
There are many times that a student may fall behind in school, but one of the most impactful is making the transition to high school.
Research shows that whether students graduate from high school is largely determined during their freshman year.
"The first year in high school has an outsize impact on whether students eventually graduate because it is a critical time for students' perceptions of themselves as learners. With the school transition comes questions for students about whether and how they will fit in to the new context. If a student isn't sure she can succeed, or feels she doesn't belong, she will be less likely to put in effort when challenges arise. After failing once, each time a student starts a new class he will wonder if he's just going to fail again. On the other hand, if students have a successful ninth grade year, they know they can succeed, and that they belong in high school, and those positive mindsets will help them face up to the challenges they face later on." Elaine M. Allensworth, Lewis-Sebring Director of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
Hamilton students historically have not done well with the transition to high school. Math and English tend to be the areas that our students struggle with the most. So, we created Summer Bridge to give graduating Hamilton students additional skills and practice during the summer prior to entering ninth grade. Our first year was summer 2019 and it was a huge success. Due to COVID-19, we ran the program virtually in the summer of 2020. We are hoping to resume this program soon. To that end, in 2023 we hired a high school algebra teacher to create a three week prep course for students so that they will have a better chance for success. High school math is the biggest stumbling block for students from Hamilton and we aim to change that with the SummerBridge program.