As I look into the bright eyes of our incoming 6th grade students the word “trajectory” comes to mind. They have no idea that their time spent in Summer Academy over a few weeks this summer will change their lives and the lives of their family forever.
They have made it—met the first challenge, jumped the first hurdle but there is much more to be done. Over the next three years through hard work and a dedication to learning their academic skills will improve, on average, over five grade levels in math, reading, and writing.
They will grow—individually and as a community. They will develop habits of success—healthy eating, exercise, study skills, public speaking, advocacy for self and others, critical thinking, spirituality and poise.
I see in these 11 year old children, still a bit gangly and awkward in their own skin, strong young women and confident young men. They will be crossing the stage to accept a middle school diploma in three years. I hear in their self-deprecating humor and easy laughter, the voices of the high school students they will become as they describe pre-calculus class at one of our partner high schools and how they are fighting to raise a B to an A.
These sixth graders run, tumble and run (with stern reminders to walk), along our hallways with new songs in their heads and ideas on the tips of their tongues. They are unaware that in just seven short years they will be packing up and moving on to college; perhaps the first in their family to do so.
At Christmas break and summertime they will come back to us to say hi, tell us how they are doing, what they are excited about and describe their plans for the future. When they graduate from college we will help them enter the professional world. We will re-connect them with our community—others who have similar histories but different stories—our alumni.
I high five these 11 year olds for getting themselves to summer school on time, for putting in the work and for wanting a good education that will show them who they are and who they can become; an education that will take them places. I high five them because I know that in the blink of an eye, they will become adults—comfortable in their own skin—ready to take on the world.