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[Newark, NJ – September 01, 2016] – Newark Public Schools (NPS) and the Office of Expanded Learning Time’s (ELT) Summer Plus and summer learning programs ended this month. Over 4,400 students were enrolled in Summer Plus this year, which ran from July 11 to August 5, with thousands more participating in enrichment programs across the city.
“It was inspiring to see so many students excited about continuing their education throughout the summer months,” said Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of NPS. “It is critical that we give our children access to enriching educational experience, and so many of our students will be walking into school this September feeling better prepared for the school year thanks to their summer learning experience.”
Summer Plus was developed by NPS’ curriculum experts to improve critical math and literacy skills and ensure that participants are prepared for the upcoming school year. Summer Plus includes enrichment experiences in arts, STEM, and health and fitness aligned to academics. Lafayette Street, for example, worked with a community-based organization, Ironbound Community Corporation, to offer programs that helped make learning fun for students including: computer coding, gardening, water robotics, music, spoken word, arts programs and various STEM-based extended day activities.
“Summer Plus 2016 was the perfect balance of academic and enrichment experiences our students have had to date,” said Hillary Dow, Summer Plus Principal at Belmont Runyon Elementary School. “All of our students were thoroughly engaged in the curriculum, and the enrichment activities allowed students to have fun while still learning.”
In addition to Summer Plus, NPS created an online catalogue of summer learning opportunities in partnership with the organization Newark Thrives! so that students in grades PreK – 12 could learn more about their options. Opportunities included outdoor experiences, college preparation, arts and academic enrichment programs. Camp Newark Museum, for example, provided a fun, innovative six-week experience where children expanded their knowledge through exploration of the Museum’s world class art and science collections.
A partnership between Stevens Institute of Technology, Newark Public Schools and the PSEG Foundation was another unique example, which provided a $35,600 grant to allow 14 rising juniors and seniors from Newark Public Schools to attend summer programs at Stevens Institute’s Pre-College program. Tuition, housing, meal plans and activities were all covered, and students had the opportunity to immerse themselves academic coursework related to fields such as engineering & science, technology, society & the arts and business.
“So many students had a positive educational experience this summer thanks to the Summer Plus and other enrichment programs,” said Sarah Cruz, Special Assistant of Extended Learning Time. “We are hopeful that the time and effort our students and teachers invested this summer will translate into improved academic performance during the school year.”
Summer Plus is a free district-wide initiative to curb summer learning loss and provide enrichment experiences for students that will help advance their academics. Summer Plus has three main programs – Summer Plus, English Plus and Extended School Year – and operates in 11 schools including: Brick Avon Academy, Lafayette Street, Hawkins Street, Belmont Runyon, Hawthorne Avenue, 13th Avenue, Speedway Academy, Mount Vernon, McKinley, First Avenue and Park Elementary School. Students engaged in math and literacy curricula that are custom-designed by NPS teachers specifically for Summer Plus. Each site partnered with a community-based organization to develop enrichment programming and field trips to give children a more holistic experience.