Each Middle Grades Partnership program is wholly designed by teachers from a Baltimore City public school and its partner private school. Because students differ from site to site, programs do too. However, all Middle Grades Partnership programs—designed to stimulate, not remediate—embody these principles:
The mission statement of Southwest Baltimore Charter School affirms the existence of thoughtfulness, courage, and compassion in every child. The job of the teachers at Southwest Baltimore Charter School is to provide students with an opportunity to express these attributes in the school environment. The school sets out to achieve this mission in a number of ways (as stated on the school’s website): Differentiated Instruction, The Extraordinary Learning model, Arts Integration and Choice Theory. Gilman’s mission, in its own way, strives to educate boys to become men of character who will (and do) make positive contributions to the community.
With a shared focus on community involvement through compassionate citizenry, the aim of the Middle Grades Partnership Summer Program will be to engage the boys and girls in activities that give them an opportunity to put these values into action. The challenge will also be to provide the students with a “fun” summer school experience that keeps them engaged and wanting to return every day. Necessarily, the program needs to be academic, providing the students from both schools with enrichment in Math and Language Arts.
The aim of the summer program is to limit summer learning loss. Students will be appropriately challenged in Language Arts, Math, and Foreign Language instruction on a daily basis. Students will be assessed daily (formative and summative) by the lead teacher and adjustments will be made to the curriculum to support individual and collective student growth. The expectation will be that students at each level have had a review of the previous grade’s material and some exposure to the curricular strands to be covered in the upcoming school year.
The goals of this partnership are primarily academic; however, time will be used to address the socio-emotional growth of the students. Team building exercises and “Ice Breakers” will be used as introductory exercises for the students, teachers, and interns. Morning meetings will be held to build on discussions of the values of education, to help outline potential career and educational pathways, and to inspire creativity and engagement within the broader community. Presentations from the speakers will be tied to program themes and will help to reinforce discussions in class.
Developing a culture that intertwines values from each of the school will be important to create a safe and fun learning environment for all students enrolled in the program. Reinforcing positive academic expectations for success for Gilman and Southwest Baltimore Charter School students, as well as adherence to the values in the education of both schools, will be important.