One of the key tenets of charter schools is their ability to innovate. That innovation can take many forms, and at KIPP charter schools it often means a longer school day and year.
At Albany’s KIPP Tech Valley Primary Charter School scholars are afforded non-optional summer programming to ensure they are learning all year long.
We recently caught up with School Leader Maya Tucci to check in on the summer program and how the school’s youngest scholars are responding to it.
“One of the pillars of KIPP is more time, which for us means a longer school year. We provide our students with 200 days of learning, over the traditional 180. We prioritize summer learning, and it starts with our kids entering Kindergarten. The first part of our program for our youngest students focuses on school rules and what types of behavior we expect. We then move on to learn about the school values, routines, and eventually get immersed in academics,” Tucci said.
The first part of the students’ summer learning teaches them about the basics – raising one’s hand for questions, walking in an orderly fashion from classroom to classroom, and how to share nicely with other kids. Then teachers begin to build on that to teach more of the KIPP school culture, which involves a real emphasis on the expectation that scholars will one day attend college. Each homeroom is named for the college of a teacher, and hallways and doors are adorned with college pendants.
Tucci said, “We waste no time here. We want our kids to be learning, and we also want them to love school – and so we make school fun. We allow kids to be kids. We do academics, but we have gym or dance every day, as well as recess. Our students love being here.”
All students are provided summer learning, but our visit coincided with the start of Kindergarten. From the looks on the kids’ faces you could tell they were learning and having fun.
KIPP Tech Valley Primary also really involves families in the learning process. In June, educators do home visits to help parents prepare for summer learning. Parents and guardians are shown how to access KIPP’s tools for learning right on their phones or computers so that parents can work with their child before they attend summer school in August. Tucci said the majority of families get involved in this at-home learning.
In addition to all of this, the school’s summer program helps teachers as well. They work on guided reading with their scholars, a cornerstone of KIPP instruction. They also have a better idea of where kids are academically on their first day of school in September since they have worked with them over the summer. Tucci said this helps immensely with teacher planning.
With the start of the school year just around the corner, we’re sure that with all of this summer work, KIPP Tech Valley scholars and teachers are already ahead.