Stopping the ‘Summer Slide’ at Classical

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

As educators, every day, we encounter classrooms of students, each of whom has a different experience of our instruction. While many of them, through our methods and systems, are successful during the year, we meet some scholars who, to be successful, require further attention and targeted instruction during the summer. Because of that necessity, Classical offers a three-week program for scholars to meet the expectations of the grade. But it is not just that. Classical’s Summer Learning Academy (SLA) also allows Classical to grow as a network by training those who have been selected for the ClassiCorps Teaching Fellowship program to get their first experience of owning their own classrooms. I was involved first as a Summer Mentor Teacher for four years and then as the Co-Director of the program for one, and most recently as the Director of the program for the past two years.

“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” – Mark Twain

Classical, like every institution, builds on top of what has come before. As we approach the summer and welcome our new ClassiCorps members, teachers apply to become Summer Mentor Teachers. Those teachers who have been successful throughout the year are given a classroom and 1-2 members of the ClassiCorps class to mentor. Those ClassiCorps, in turn, learn the logistics of how to effectively run a classroom. Under the Summer Mentor Teachers’ guidance, the ClassiCorps fellows teach lessons to close gaps in Math and ELA instruction. Each day, they receive substantive feedback from their Mentor Teachers and from our Instructional Coaches to prepare them to lead and assist in classrooms in the coming school year. Through this process, each new teacher is prepared for the rigors of the school year and gets to experience the joy and challenge of teaching our scholars.

“I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer … education that connects the will to know with the will to become.” – Bell Hooks

One of the great benefits of our Summer Learning Academy is that the classrooms are smaller and populated with scholars who, throughout the year, struggled to fully master the content in our curriculum. Through the smaller classes, each scholar receives a more personalized instruction, one which focuses on the areas in which they had trouble throughout the year. When we create classrooms, scholars are placed into ELA and Math, ELA only, or Math only tracks, so that they receive the precise instruction necessary for them to be ready for the new year. Through three weeks of half day instruction, every scholar is shown that we see their gaps and care enough to work hard to fix them. Our aim, in the Summer Learning Academy, and, throughout the year, is to create scholars who feel confident enough to participate actively in the classroom, and, by addressing their areas of struggle, we give each scholar more support so that they can build their voice.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But, by all means, keep moving.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Summer Learning Academy is ultimately a tool to help equip each scholar with the confidence and competence to succeed in the new year and each new teacher with the skills necessary to face the challenge of being a first-year teacher. Through the program, we build new leaders and new teachers, and get a chance to show our scholars that each new effort can bring them closer to success.

In 2023 and 2024, our Summer Learning Academy has been made possible by the generous support of the Bloomberg Philanthropies and their Summer Boost NYC initiative. This program serves approximately 25,000 K-8 students across NYC who have experienced learning loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Classical is greatly appreciative of the Summer Boost support which enables us to best serve our scholars and prepare them, academically and socially, for the school year ahead.



This post was contributed by Mr. Urda, Middle School Grade Team Leader and ELA Teacher. As a non-CMO charter network, we rely on the thoughts, opinions, and innovations of our staff to move our mission forward and provide an excellent academic option to families in the South Bronx. To hear more from our staff, check out the next post! Or, click here to learn more.


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