This summer, students from Mendez Middle School pitched tents, made films, dissected frogs and went on service field trips to supplement their school-year learning and learn new skills.
After running a successful summer program at Decker Middle School last year, United Way for Greater Austin made an additional investment in summer learning at Mendez Middle School in Dove Springs to contribute to an academically-engaged and adventure-filled summer experience for more than 60 middle school students. Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area, 21st Century ACE Austin and a cohort of energetic and creative Mendez teachers worked side by side to lead students in projects that bolstered school-year learning and introduced new concepts and activities.
In reading classes, students read a community novel about making tough choices, which they discussed enthusiastically in literature circles. This provided a safe space to discuss challenges such as social choices, gangs and family life, while also encouraging students to practice reading aloud and helping one another with word comprehension.
In math class, students set out to find price estimates for a house, a car and an education, and then tied budgeting skills and internet research skills with their own, unique life ambitions to correspond to the importance of planning for the future.
Afternoons allowed students the chance to build new friendships and exit their comfort zones by tackling projects like making their own films, learning about aviation, building a campsite in a survival scenario and much more. Vendors including Camp Fire, Phoenix Arising, Austin Film Society and all of the ACE and Boys & Girls Club staff made it possible for students to develop leadership skills while partaking in these memorable activities.
In addition to supporting their own growth and development, students gave back to the community through a number of projects related to local flood relief efforts, a service project to Mainspring schools and an educational visit from Colin’s Hope about water safety.
Thank you to 21st Century ACE Austin, Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area and the talented team of Mendez teachers who worked daily to make this program a success.
Parents of the students who attended the summer program said:
“My child came home and taught me what a nutritional label was and was able to read to me and help me understand it as a parent.”
“The enrichment portion gave them opportunities to learn new skills and work on week-long projects.”
“It was a good chance to teach him social skills, which was helpful for me as a parent.”