By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
Summer is abuzz at Big Thought. Yes, the season doesn’t officially begin until June 20 but we are already prepping for the upcoming Dallas ISD Summer Achievers Academy, a core and enrichment 5-week camp that runs June 27 through July 28 at five local elementary schools and three middle schools.
Summer Achievers Academy is also in partnership with Dallas City of Learning, a public-private citywide commitment convened by the City of Dallas, Dallas ISD, and managed by Big Thought. Summer Achievers Academy can earn students several DCoL badges stemming from core academic and enrichment classes.
Thursday afternoon at the Big Thought headquarters bustled to the beat of our 2016 Achievers Academy Summer Camp trainings. Our creative learning experts coached Big Thought teaching artists, Dallas ISD instructors and teachers, and teaching artists from community partners on social-emotional learning, growth mindset, and collaborative planning.
Social-emotional learning is all about being artistic, taking creative risks, and providing students with the freeing environment to take those risks. Growth mindset is an education philosophy on how to talk to students to encourage them. And what about collaborative planning? Well, it’s a 5-week camp with only 19 days of teaching, so plan, plan, plan. Order your supplies and figure out all of your logistics now.
For the kids, Summer Achievers Academy cranks up four days a week (Monday through Thursday) with core academic classes from 9 am to noon and enrichment classes from 12:30 to 4 pm. Big Thought will be heavily involved in the enrichment portion. The five elementary and three middle schools participating are: Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School, Leonides Gonzalez Cigarroa MD Elementary School, Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center, Martha Turner Reilly Elementary School, Arturo Salazar Elementary School, E.B. Comstock Middle School, Billy Earl Dade Middle School, and Francisco Medrano Middle School.
In the midst of morale boosting cheers and creative thinking activities, the Dallas ISD media team filmed part of the day’s activities to use in their This Week in Dallas ISD section of The Hub, the Dallas ISD blog. Tiffanie Blackmon Jones, with Dallas ISD Internal Communications, was on hand to act as on-camera interviewer on important issues such as social-emotional learning, creative learning, and summer learning.
Biola Rotibi, a Dallas ISD music instructor and principle in Fine Arts Nth organization, will be an instructional partner for Big Thought during Summer Achiever Academy. Rotibi will be guiding, collaborating and evaluating the enrichment classes at Burleson Elementary. He will also be mentoring and cultivating his Fine Arts Nth instructors at other SAA sites.
“The focus of Big Thought is to build relationship skills,” says Rotibi about the ever-important social-emotional learning. “If they have those skills they can coexist within their own community. Then they bring those skills back to school and they build relationships with students to help them excel in their learning.”
Since SAA will be half enrichment, there is dramatic emphasis on creative learning, the ability for kids to take chances, to tap into their curiosity and experience the trial and error that’s a natural part of fearless experimentation. The arts are perfect vehicles for promoting creative learning.
“They can choose their classes or activities,” says Rotibi. “They learn to make better choices because they are practicing decision-making. They are problem solving and that will help with core subjects like math, science, social studies. They are also learning to be creative in the arts and they are becoming individuals.”
Ashli Henderson, a Dallas ISD teacher and Big Thought teaching artist, will be teaching at Billy Earl Dade Middle School during Summer Achievers Academy. She is adamant that children need the benefit of summer learning, those special kernels of knowledge that pop during an environment casually removed from the rigors of the regular school year.
“They learn teamwork,” says Henderson. “They learn to be flexible, open, motivated, all working toward one goal. They work with people they don’t normally get to work with. Ultimately, the summer program gets them motivated to stay in school. It keeps them active and engaged in learning.”
Summer is always energizing. It’s about feeling the buzz of the season. Summer Achievers Academy, Big Thought, Dallas City of Learning and Dallas ISD all have hands on the pulse.
We thank our Dallas City of Learning donors for their generous support. For a list of donors, visit the Dallas City of Learning page.