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Teacher in New Haven summer enrichment program wins award

New Haven Register logo New Haven Register 7/23/2019 By Brian Zahn

NEW HAVEN — Recess. Swimming. Lunch. Snack. Dismissal.

Rankin Eubanks, 6, listed his favorite parts of the day this summer as he participates in Horizons at Foote, an academic and cultural enrichment program for low-income students that has run locally for five years.

“What about reading? What about math?” asked teacher Sue Shaw, a learning support teacher at Foote School during the academic year and a kindergarten teacher at Horizons at Foote this summer.

“Oh, yeah!” Rankin said. Of course he likes the learning, too.

Kelonda Maull, executive director of Horizons at Foote, said the program — a national program launched in New Canaan that partners with independent schools and private universities to use their facilities for free — is designed to combat the “summer slide,” the idea that students lose information over summer, while also providing them with enrichment activities such as yoga and music.

Shaw received the Lyn McNaught Award in March, which is awarded to three Horizons teachers annually. According to the Horizons website, there are 789 teachers involved with the program.

“I believe in project-based learning,” Shaw said. In her kindergarten class, students have an opportunity to explore what interests them.

On Tuesday, Nada Abdulghany, 6, was counting by 10s. Before that, she said, she worked out an equation: zero minus zero equals zero. When asked how high she can count, she said 100.

Shaw said that her students watched “Finding Dory” one year and began asking questions about octopuses, which turned into a heavier focus on marine biology.

For the last four summers, Shaw “looped” with her students, starting with them in kindergarten and following them to third grade. She said some of the most crucial work is done around parent engagement, so having a familiarity with students and parents allows for more productive learning time.

Currently, the program at Foote serves 112 students from kindergarten to sixth grade. In two years, the program will reach capacity when it expands to eighth grade, after which Maull said the program will prepare those students for high school. Once students get a seat in the program, she said, they maintain that seat annually unless they leave the program.

In addition to academic and cultural enrichment opportunities, students also receive breakfast, lunch and a snack.

“It’s all about summer learning,” Maull said.

brian.zahn@hearstmediact.com

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