Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

May 21, 2008
Contact: Karen West
Mark Daniels

Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University
Names 21st Century Redhound Enrichment
One of Nation's Best Summer Learning Programs

Program Serves Youth from Corbin Independent
School District and Surrounding Region
in Rural Southeastern Kentucky

Editor's Note: Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, is available for phone interviews about the critical problem of summer learning loss and the impressive success of Redhound Enrichment. To interview Fairchild, reporters should call Jeanne Johnson at 410-516-6180.

Baltimore The Center for Summer Learning at The Johns Hopkins University has named the 21st Century Redhound Enrichment Program, serving children in a rural tri-county area of southeastern Kentucky, as one of the nation's best summer learning programs, selecting it from dozens of applicants across the country.

The 2008 Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes summer programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting positive development for young people.

"The 21st Century Redhound Enrichment Program stands out as an innovative and effective approach to summer learning," says Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning. "It is an outstanding example of what can be done through a strong partnership of educators, parents, community leaders and a dedicated staff. They have succeeded in creating a program that excites and inspires children, making learning both meaningful and enjoyable. Learning is no impediment to fun at Redhound Enrichment!"

Beginning on Friday, May 23, about 165 children from kindergarten through 8th grade will be spending their summer days learning and having fun in a camp-like setting immersed in a kaleidoscope of activities and exploration that is Redhound Enrichment. All summer learning in the program is built around a theme that draws on resources in the community and surrounding areas to provide hands-on experiences and exciting learning opportunities. Each week focuses on a different aspect of the summer-long theme, providing creative and challenging projects that relate to the core areas of mathematics, language arts, reading, science, social studies and arts/humanities. Students have daily experiences in all content areas through learning activities tied to the central theme, with flexibility for spending more or less time in response to students' interests.

For example, the theme in summer 2007 was "Road Trip USA," with each of the 10 weeks of the program taking on a theme for a separate geographical or cultural region of the United States. The first week centered on the Upper Plains states of Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Iowa, with the weekly theme of "Go West, Young Person!" inspiring a full range of ideas, including camping, wagon trains, westward expansion and railways. Studying geography, learning to use a compass, measuring distances and reading maps kept students learning, while they also sang campfire songs, created drawings, and read books about pioneers and the railroads. A field trip to the local railway hub, scavenger hunts and tent-pitching contests rounded out the first week.

The program runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, beginning the first day that school is out for the summer, and continues every weekday until school resumes in August, with a one-week vacation around the July 4 holiday. Planned learning takes place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., with choice activities and free play before and after those times. This flexibility in schedule was designed to meet the needs of parents and participants who might want a full day of supervised activities or who may choose to just participate in targeted programming. No student is turned away from the summer program, regardless of ability or financial status. Although parents are charged a modest fee to help cover program expenses, more than 60 percent of students receive full scholarships or tuition assistance. The Corbin Independent School District has a high rate of poverty; nearly 38 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level and more than 60 percent of the district's children qualify for free and reduced lunches at the elementary level. Eighty- eight percent of the children in the district have parents who are employed, so summer vacation creates a great need for quality programs during the day. The region has no organized children's community programs, and the schools no longer offer traditional summer school for remedial learning. Redhound Enrichment fills the gap in an exemplary way, Fairchild said.

Student progress is tracked through the school year following the summer program. Data collected includes grades and assessment scores in core academic areas of reading/language arts and mathematics. Comparisons are made between student achievement before and after attending the program. A comparison of data from May 2006 and December 2006 shows:

  • 55 percent of students improved mathematics grades by one letter grade or more
  • 53 percent improved reading/language arts grades by one letter grade or more.
    State testing data shows:
  • 77 percent scored at or above proficient levels in mathematics
  • 81 scored at or above proficient levels in reading.
  • Redhound Enrichment aims to prevent learning loss during the long summer break, a particular concern for low-income students. According to the Center for Summer Learning, research shows that all children experience learning loss when they don't engage in educational activities during the summer. Studies show students fall an average of almost 2.6 months behind in math skills, and low-income children fall behind an average of two months in reading while their middle-income peers tend to make slight gains. By fifth grade, low-income children can be as much as 2.5 years behind in reading. Johns Hopkins researchers recently found that 65 percent of the achievement gap between poor and more advantaged ninth-graders can be explained by unequal summer learning experiences during the elementary school years.

    "We are very pleased and honored to be recognized by the Center for Summer Learning," said Karen West, special projects curriculum supervisor for the Corbin Independent Schools. "We want summer to be a time for continued growth for our young people. We also believe it can provide academic and personal experiences that can help them to be successful in school and in life. We're proud to be part of this effort."

    On Thursday, July 10, cities around the country will celebrate Summer Learning Day, a national event organized by the Center for Summer Learning to raise awareness of the importance of high- quality summer learning opportunities in the lives of youth and their families. Redhound Enrichment is planning family and community involvement activities to showcase the program.

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    The mission of the Center for Summer Learning is to create opportunities for high-quality summer learning for all young people. The Center is committed to expanding summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children and youth as a strategy for closing the achievement gap and promoting healthy youth development. Based at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, the Center works to improve program availability and quality, build public support and influence public policy and funding. For more information, visit: www.summerlearning.org