Leah Jaffe, a Charlestown High School teacher, shares her involvement as the coordinator for the C-Town Tech Summer Bridge Program.
Be sure to read our “Applying the Framework” summary that connects Leah’s story to the Students at the Center Framework.
Week 1: July 13- July 17
Today is the day. I’m anxious and nervous who will show up. It’s 8:25 a.m. on Monday morning. All of our efforts, all of the recruiting and visits to middle schools. All of the phone calls home and voicemails. All of my colleagues there- eyes on me. Today is the day.
I’m overwhelmed and continue with my mental checklist: MBTA Bus Passes, MIT Field Trip and permission slips, food services, student folders and documents, what else, what else, there’s something else.
Jake and Rory were introduced the first week to our students as Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) mentors. They were selected and recommended by Jaime [the BHCC Professor] who had taught them both in previous courses and had accelerated in her class. It was a perfect balance of gender ratio, information technology (IT) knowledge and mutual mind-set growth. The knowledge that the two of them and Dinesh [the high school information technology teacher] possessed was significant and extraordinary and certainly an asset to the classroom and students.
The frightened unresponsive faces of our day one students, compared to day four, was just a little glimpse of their big personalities, waiting to unfold over the next two weeks. I looked over our student population- what a great variety of girls, boys and from all walks of life! I assured our staff and my colleagues that even though day one was rough, they should have faith that there will be a point in which you won’t be able to get them to be quiet.
By Thursday we had all of our program participants, and by Friday, they were going to present their findings to our Panelist from JFF and SAP. We had a great diverse group of students entering this summer program and I felt relieved that our small group grew to what it did by the end of the week. I also felt assured that the students were engaged with the curriculum and already by the end of the week had completed ‘Hour of Code’ and attended and completed a MIT workshop. The first week was a blur.
Week 2: July 20- July 24
These students are getting comfortable and it’s been fascinating watching the social hierarchy and dynamic of them work or not work together. Social awkwardness is a theme for some, while others seem quite adult and mature. Today we start Carnegie Math Tutor. Dinesh and the students are really responding well with one another. He is respected in the classroom- his ease and calmness provides an overall sense of comfort amongst the students. He does not raise his voice, he speaks with purpose and exercises patience.
The visit to Charlestown High School (CHS) may have been the student’s highlight of the week. The Headmaster of CHS, William Thomas had reached out to me earlier in the week to invite us to the high school to participate in an ‘ice cream social’ and meet and greet fellow peers and teachers. We had to adjust our agenda and schedule for Thursday.
Dinesh walked over with the students from BHCC to CHS. This was a great opportunity for students who had not visited or taken a tour, to see the building and for everyone to get to know the rest of their incoming peers.
You know that some of the friendships that were made this summer will last throughout graduation and in contrast you also know that some of these friendships will no longer exist as soon as fall resumes. Getting to see our eight interact with the other students and not just with the C-TownTech cohort made it real- that while seizing this opportunity, they are still teenagers who will be faced with all the stresses and struggles of navigating high school.
Week 3: July 27-July 31
Final week. Where has the time gone?! And wow, now you can really see each student’s personality really come to light. They are amazing. And funny. And smart. And innocent.
I created an agenda to accommodate post surveys, student presentations, and final ceremony with refreshments and remarks by the Headmaster William Thomas. The agenda was designed to allow final math comments and exiting surveys and time for students to put on finishing touches on their presentations. The afternoon was blocked for food, guest and refreshments.
They laugh together, work together and now have completed a summer experience with each other. I can only hope that they can reflect on their summer experience in such a positive manner and share their thoughts and comments to others alike.
Authored by Leah Jaffe
- Learning happens outside of a traditional classroom. By holding classes on a college campus and providing offsite workshops at MIT, participants experienced and reinforced their learning beyond school walls.
- Technologies are accessible and engaging. Choosing technological tools that are zero to low-cost invite students to continue their learning after the coursework is done. For example, Scratch (used within the C-Town Tech program) is a free online tool that introduces computer science in an approachable, inviting way.