Beginning the summer before their sixth grade year, our students attend Middle School Summer Academy, where they receive instruction in the four core subject areas: English, math, science, and Global Connect (similar to Social Studies). Students also choose elective classes crafted off of their teachers’ passions, talents, and skills. These classes can range from dance to theater to poetry to yoga to astronomy. All classes at our Summer Academy are small – approximately 8-12 students – so that each student receives individualized academic attention and support. Low-income students lose up to 25% of the information gained the previous school year during the summer months (The Case Against Summer Vacation). Not only does this programming combat the summer learning loss that many students who do not receive summer enrichment experience, but students also enter the next school year feeling more prepared and confident because they have already been exposed to the grade’s content. Students also attend weekly field trips, during which they learn about their local communities, explore different career opportunities, tour local colleges, and engage in community service.
Summer student enrichment includes:
- Four core subject areas: Students receive instruction in English, Math, Science, and Global Connect.
- Elective class: Students choose an elective class such as dance, theater, yoga, and visual arts.
- Weekly field trips: Students attend weekly field trips to learn about local communities, explore different career opportunities, tour local colleges, and engage in community service.
- Teacher advisors: Teachers are matched with a small group of students to serve as their advisor.
During the summer, we are proud to partner with the NCDPI through the USDA Summer Food Services Program to provide healthy meals at no cost to our students.
During the school year, middle school students board Durham Public School buses Monday through Thursday after-school and come to the W.G. Pearson Center for three hours of after-school programming and enrichment. The after-school program mirrors the structures, values, and culture already well-established in Student U’s Summer Academy. Programming includes study sessions, academic goal setting, intense academic remediation, academic and arts clubs, and community building. Perhaps just as beneficial as the academic support are the close and supportive relationships they are able to continue building with their Student U peers and teachers throughout the school year.
Year-round student enrichment includes:
- After-school programming and enrichment: Students attend three hours of daily programming to connect each student with resources, activities, and programs that will support students in individual academic growth.
- Study Rotations: Students complete their homework and work towards their goals on their personal Achieve Greatness Action Plan.
- Clubs: Students focus on leadership, STEM, athletics, or the arts. Club classes not only allow our students to engage in activities they enjoy, but also push them to discover their best selves by trying new things.
- Monthly phone calls and a family conference once a semester: Staff ensure that parents, students and Student U function as a team to support students.