MGP LEADS is Middle Grades Partnership’s approach to leadership and social justice education reimagined for the school year program. Middle Grades Partnership’s Vision Statement speaks to ‘Uniting public and private school communities to create indelible experiences that enable students to thrive as friends, scholars, leaders, and citizens.’ MGP LEADS will enhance our ability to see that vision come to life. MGP LEADS is a new, year-round component that enhances our ability to realize that vision for our students.
Building on our students’ innate interest in social justice, MGP LEADS facilitates each partnership tackling those issues in a way that is deep, comprehensive, and age-appropriate. The topics selected are guided by student choice and realized through project-based learning. Students thus develop their voice, leadership capacity, and social-emotional maturity. MGP LEADS reinforces academic competencies including organization, research, writing, and presentation as well as important 21st Century skills such as cultural competency, resilience, and teamwork.
The addition of project-based social justice programming to Middle Grades Partnership’s signature summer experience has resulted in deeper and authentic friendships and increased empathy across lines of race and socio-economic circumstances. As is all too evident, especially in this time of pandemic and divisiveness, these are much-needed values to instill in the future leaders of our city. MGP LEADS will further develop students who are empowered with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be agents of change in their schools and our communities.
Summer learning loss is a serious challenge to millions of American students. Summer off from school might be fun for kids, but it contributes significantly to their underachievement. Summer learning loss in math and reading can set students back months, and the loss for low-income urban students is greatest. In fact, two-thirds of the achievement gap between successful and unsuccessful students is attributable to unequal summer learning opportunities. Our summer programming provides students with opportunities that ensure summer learning gains: academic and enrichment classes taught by the best teachers from both schools, exposure to new and varied challenges in a supportive environment, and 150 hours of programming five full days a week for five weeks over the summer.
Middle Grades Partnership is enriching and not remedial. Integrated into the core subjects (reading, writing, and math) are classes that may include history, global studies, media studies, environmental studies, a full complement of STEM subjects, Shakespeare, poetry, or foreign languages. One partnership integrates all subjects into well-developed, weekly Design Thinking projects. Class sizes are small with discussion and critical thinking key to the work. Our teachers create collaborative experiences in problem-solving and group projects. In addition to traditional academic subjects, our partnerships offer art classes, ceramics, dance, challenge courses, theatre, and multi-disciplinary math and music combinations that take full advantage of the private school campus resources. Last year our students enjoyed horseback riding, overnight camping, stream studies, designing and launching their own rockets, college visits, canoeing and sailing trips, and museum tours in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. In one partnership, students studying anatomy dissected a fetal pig. In another, they produced ‘TED Talks.’ Our teachers are experts at tailoring programming to meet the developmental needs of students. They differentiate both structure and instruction between grade levels and learning styles.
Our rising ninth-graders are given more freedom and responsibility while being paid through Baltimore YouthWorks. Rising ninth-graders accepted to top high schools have a tremendous amount of summer work to complete. We give them a safe place to work with access to computers, libraries, teachers, and resources. In the afternoons they serve as mentors and helpers and participate alongside the younger students in sports, trivia, swimming, and games.
At the end of the summer, all students celebrate their summer activities with family and friends during a culminating ceremony at each partnership.