Thayer Collaborative gears up for its second summer

Thayer Collaborative gears up for its second summer

Most people just can’t wait for summer, and the educators of the Thayer Academy Collaborative are no different. 

With last year’s successful pilot program in the books, the Collaborative — the Academy’s summer academic enrichment program for students from underrepresented groups in Boston and Greater Boston — is ready to go in 2024. 

“One of the goals of the program is to expose people who historically have not been represented at independent schools, specifically, to the independent school world,” said DEIB Director Matt Ghiden, who’s taken the lead on Collaborative efforts. “Another goal is to inspire in those students a love of learning by leveraging the school’s resources.” 

The Collaborative is available for students entering grades 6-8 in the fall of 2024 who have identities that have been historically marginalized because of factors such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status. The three-week program will run Mondays through Fridays from July 8 until July 26. The daily schedule starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Meals (breakfast, lunch, and snack) and transportation are provided. The application deadline is June 1. 

The priority of the program is academic enrichment; each academic class is taught by a lead teacher as well as a teaching assistant. In the morning, students take English, science, and math classes. After lunch, the focus shifts to, depending upon the week, one of three activities: music & visual arts; robotics & coding; or media production. Students then swim in the campus pool until pickup time. 

Fridays are reserved for field trips. Last year, said Ghiden, students traveled to Norwood-based Instron, a leading provider of mechanical testing systems, where they built houses out of popsicle sticks, placed a rubber ducky inside said houses, and used an Instron crushing device to see whose house was strongest. Another week students visited an urban farm in Dorchester run by The Food Project, and on the third field trip students made kites during a visit to the Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center in Milton. 

“It was great,” Ghiden said of the 2023 pilot program, which also ran for three weeks and welcomed 12 students from Dorchester, Quincy, Braintree, and Randolph. “We set a foundation of learning, camaraderie, and fun. Students were able to build social relationships while discovering their academic interests.” Ghiden credits the work of Marie Jimenez, Thayer’s IDEA Department Co-Chair & Middle School Collaborative Design Lab Director, for helping to establish this solid foundation as the Collaborative’s inaugural Program Director. 

Another benefit of the program, added Ghiden, is that it prevents summer learning loss, aka “the summer slide,” in which students fall out of practice and forget some of the skills they learned during the previous year of school. 

Ghiden is clear on the Collaborative’s objective but is also eager to dispel any misconceptions that the program is exclusionary in nature. 

“This is definitely a program to empower students of color as students of color have traditionally not been represented in independent schools,” said Ghiden. “However, the Collaborative welcomes — and, in fact, has welcomed — white students whose socioeconomic status places them in that marginalized category.” 

For more information, visit the Thayer Academy Collaborative webpage.

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