Summer Enrichment Program Aims to Beat the ‘Summer Brain Drain’

Horizons students outside by the busHorizons at Warner Begins First Summer in LeChase Hall
A six-week summer enrichment program hosted by the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education to help prevent summer learning loss—also known as ‘summer slide’ or ‘summer brain drain’ — has students hitting new classrooms this summer. And students and teachers will not even consider it summer school.

Horizons at Warner
will bring together low-income kindergartners through eighth graders from Rochester public schools on River Campus from June 25 to Aug. 2 for a summer learning experience that blends high-quality academics with arts, sports, cultural enrichment, and confident-building activities. Held in a new location this year—Raymond F. LeChase Hall, the new home of the Warner School since January 2013—Horizons at Warner will host 110 city school students, nearly doubling enrollment from two years ago. More than 80 percent of the students will come from John James Audubon School No. 33, with the rest coming from other city schools.
Research shows that students lose ground academically when they are out of school for the summer, and students from low-income families experience greater summer learning losses, putting them at a disadvantage academically and widening the achievement gap. A Yale University study concluded that students in Horizons summer programs across the country show improved attendance, academic performance, classroom participation, and leadership skills throughout the regular school year. 

Executive Director Lynn Gatto, who leads Horizons at Warner, says that not every parent has the resources and support to help their children continue to grow over the summer months. “Through Horizons, we help to keep students from low-income families on pace with their peers academically and socially, rather than letting them fall behind,” says Gatto.
The Horizons at Warner program is free to students, aside from a $25 registration fee, and provides meals and transportation. And children engage in learning opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have during the summer. The full-day program runs daily, providing students with an outlet to continue learning outside the traditional classroom and to engage in hands-on educational enrichment in math, reading, social studies, and literacy.
“The theme for this year’s program will focus on building children’s entrepreneurial skills,” adds Gatto. “Students will brainstorm and operate their own businesses, and even make a profit doing it.”

New to Horizons at Warner this year is a Leadership Academy for sixth- to eighth-grade students. Each week, the Leadership Academy will bring in outside experts to work with adolescents on financial management, etiquette in public social situations, self-confidence and self-esteem, and habits for successful employment. The University of Rochester admissions office and Horizons National have provided funding to support these special projects that are a part of the Leadership Academy. The summer enrichment program also will offer weekly afternoon field trips to various sites around Rochester that relate to the entrepreneurial theme. 
In addition to gaining academic skills this summer, all Horizons students will take part in daily swim lessons, helping them to make tremendous gains in self-confidence that will carry over into the classroom during the school year.

Horizons at Warner is an affiliate of the national non-profit called Horizons National, which currently serves thousands of students in summer enrichment programs across the country. Horizons at Warner was the first-ever Horizons affiliate nationwide to be housed on a college campus and the second Horizons affiliate to open in Rochester, N.Y. Today, Horizons at Warner is one of four Horizons affiliates in the Rochester area.
Students receive ongoing support throughout the engaging summer program. In addition to the paid professional teaching staff, Horizons at Warner is staffed by volunteers of all ages. A majority of the volunteers are Warner graduate students studying to become teachers, education majors from local colleges, and high school students who all serve as teaching assistants. Children who attend Horizons at Warner are given the opportunity to spend more than half of their summer with professional teachers who know how to engage students in critical thinking, reading, writing, and math experiences and keep them excited about school.
The Horizons at Warner program is part of the summerLEAP coalition along with The Harley School, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, SUNY Geneseo, and EnCompass/Norman Howard School. In addition to facilities and time donated from local community members, the program is funded through donations from Rochester-area individuals, organizations, and foundations, including the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; Marie C. & Joseph C. Wilson Foundation; Rochester City School District; the Joan and Harold Feinbloom Supporting Foundation and John F. Wegman Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Rochester, and the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation.
The goal for Horizons at Warner is to reach 135 students in kindergarten through eighth grade by next year. The summer program has been designed to allow new students to enroll into the new kindergarten class each year with current Horizons students returning every summer for meaningful and authentic learning experiences. This year, Horizons will graduate its first class of eighth-grade students, which includes more than three-quarters of the original fourth-grade class that enrolled in the summer enrichment program four years ago. Graduates will be honored during a closing ceremony on the program’s last day, Aug. 2, and will continue to receive academic and social support as they participate in the University of Rochester’s Upward Bound Programs as high school students.
Founded in 1964, Horizons National has become a network of 26 program sites reaching 2,500 students across the nation. On average, Horizons students tend to improve three months in reading skills each summer and are far more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than they would be without the strong foundation support from Horizons.

To learn more about Horizons National, visit www.horizonsnational.org. For more information about Horizons at Warner visit www.warner.rochester.edu/centersandresearch/go/Horizon or contact Lynn Gatto at (585) 739-1168 or lynngatto@rochester.rr.com. Watch a video chronicling the 2012 summer enrichment program.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
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Tags: Horizons, Horizons at Warner, Lynn Gatto, summer enrichment, summer learning