Mission Dolores Academy | The education of tomorrow rooted in tradition.

Summer School Program Expanded for 2015

May 18, 2015

It’s no surprise that a long summer break without academically challenging activities can cause students to forget much of what was learned during the school year. Research from Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander indicates this “summer slide,” also known as Summer Learning Loss, is more pronounced among children from low-income households who lack the resources to provide summer educational opportunities. Principal Dan Storz has observed similar patterns at Mission Dolores Academy based on students’ standardized test scores. “We see tremendous gains during the school year, but there’s significant slippage over the summer,” Storz said.

Alexander’s research shows the effect of Summer Learning Loss over many years accounts for nearly 100% of the gap in academic achievement between low-income students and middle- and upper-income students.  This cumulative deficit impacts children the rest of their lives in terms of reduced college graduation rates and socioeconomic advancement.

According to Storz, Mission Dolores Academy has taken advantage of third-party summer educational programs available to the Academy’s middle school students, but there is a significant lack of programs designed for younger students. This gap is especially critical, given Alexander’s study and other research indicating children who are behind grade level by the third grade, particularly in reading, show significantly poorer life outcomes in terms of education, income, health, and other measures. 


To fill that gap, the school piloted a program in summer of 2014 that was also affordable and convenient for parents. Summer school was taught by Kindergarten teacher Morgan Gwin, with specialized reading resource instruction by Elizabeth Faherty, who heads the Academy’s R.E.A.D. program, aimed at improving students’ reading skills, during the school year.

 “It was a great program, especially for those kids who need a little extra help. It was a good way to keep everything they’ve learned fresh,” Gwin said. “We were able to break up the classes into small groups around their needs just like during the school year, but they also had fun as well. The field trips—including a visit to the fire station, Japanese tea gardens, and the Children’s Museum--were socially and culturally enriching.”

Principal Storz reported promising results, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents and teachers.  As a result, the program, called Summer Scholars, was expanded for the 2014-15 school year.

The Mission Dolores Academy Summer Scholars program was specially designed to meet the needs of MDA students. Over the course of 5 weeks, academic teachers deliver engaging and rigorous curriculum in the morning in order to maintain and extend student learning, with the hopes of eliminating any “backsliding” of knowledge and skills during the summer months.  Academic focus areas are English and Math. Enrichment classes meet in the afternoons, each class working up to a final demonstration of learning.

Examples of enrichment classes may include visual art, drama and PE.

According to Storz, “The expansion of this program is just a start as we strategically address the issues that can hold our students back from achieving their true potential.”

With the program’s expansion, the school hired a part-time Program Director to oversee the program. The Program Director, Ms. Abby Benedetto, was selected due to her extensive experience in successfully developing and rolling out programs at inner-city schools similar to Mission Dolores Academy. With a longer planning phase, the Program Director has been able to work closely with the school’s   administration to develop program content and activities.  The expanded program at the Academy features an academic program as well as an enrichment program. The program has been extended to a full day of instruction from the half day program offered during the summer of 2014. Academics are covered in the morning and enrichment in the afternoon, with each day of the week having a particular focus on Team Building, Art, Apprenticeship, Science, Community Service and Field Trips.

The academic program will be tailored to each individual student through the blended learning curriculum, allowing teachers to provide students with online learning opportunities as well as learning in a traditional instruction setting. Each student will also have an individualized phonics and language arts plan, accomplished through the school’s reading resource program. Along with the reading program, a math plan will also be tailored to each individual student.

Through the blended learning curriculum, the Academy has a commitment to technological literacy and building these skills as early as kindergarten. This learning focus is on developing foundational learning skills including social and academic skills. As such, the primary purpose for technology in the early grades (K-4) is to support the development of basic academic skills such as following instructions, reading, writing, and math facts. By the time our students reach fifth grade, they will be well prepared to put these foundational skills to practice while developing more complex learning skills-collaboration, critical thinking, analyzing data, and experimenting. The summer program will assist in reinforcing those critical reading, writing, language arts and math skills.

The enrichment program is being expanded from last year’s field trip model to have mix of both field trips and on site enrichment for our students. Wednesday’s will have a particular focus in the afternoon on Apprenticeship. Professionals from the neighborhood and the community will share their experiences and work on projects with the students that are related to their particular career field. Students will still participate in field trips where they will explore the neighborhood and beyond.

The summer program will also offer lunch. Most of the students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program and will have a healthy hot lunch provided daily.

Summer Scholars Participants

The program is primarily designed to support academic progress for rising 1st- 5th graders. This project provides opportunities to families and is way to keep our students safe and way for them to stay on top of their skills. Many of our students who need extra support come from families with limited means. This is an educational resource opportunity that our families now have at an affordable rate, $ 400 for a full day, five week program. This summer program will help us create access for our students to grow academically, sharpen their skills and start exploring their own interests for the future.  

 Funding the Summer Scholars Program

The total cost of the Summer Scholars project is $75,000. We have been fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Megan Furth Memorial Fund in the amount of $10,000.00. We have also been given an anonymous $20,000.00 challenge grant, which will be matched up to $20,000.00. We are seeking to raise $45,000.00 with the hope of the challenge grant. We hope that the community’s generosity will benefit children of Mission Dolores Academy and allow us to continue the Mission of serving the students of the Mission District and beyond.   

Details for Mission Dolores Academy Families

The day will begin with doors opening at 8:30 and morning circle at 9:00 am. The morning will filled with reading, writing and math groups. After lunch there will be an “Everybody Reads!” time to practice good reading habits and encourage reading for fun. The afternoon will be filled with enrichment programs, some of which are described below. Every Friday will be a Field Trip Day and the opportunity for new experiences for the children. Lunch and snacks are included in the program, and there will be age-appropriate recess and rest time.

Sample offerings:

Engineering Class: Do you like to build things?  Figure out why things bounce or turn gears or sink in water?  You could participate in the Young Engineers Enrichment class this summer at Summer School taught by 2 really cool high school students. (this may involve dropping eggs out of the windows of the school!) 

Blogging Apprenticeship: Do you spend a lot of time on the computer?  Ever wanted to make a movie?  Do you like to write?  Sign up for the Blogging Apprenticeship and learn how to make/write a blog that people want to read!  You will also make short movies and take photos to make your blog more interesting and appealing. 

Graphic Novel/Comic Strip Apprenticeship: Have you ever heard of Warner Brothers?  You know, the company that makes movies like San Andreas, tv shows like TMZ, and video games like Mortal Kombat?  They also own DC Comics.. you may have heard of this guy named Batman before?  Or maybe Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, or The Flash?? Want to learn how to make your own Comic story?  Learn how to do this with someone who has worked at Warner Brothers (on the Batman series!!) who will teach you to write, draw, and publish your own graphic novel!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who is eligible?

Incoming 1st graders-incoming 6th graders. Mission Dolores Academy students only!


Monday, 6/29/15 - Friday, 7/31/15 (No school July 3)

Classes are from 9:00am-5:00pm daily; morning supervision available starting at 8:30am.

There is no after school care available. Students must be picked up at 5:00pm.

Is lunch provided?

Lunch and snack are included in the program at no charge.

What is the cost?

$400 for 5 weeks.

What are the class sizes?

 We anticipate mixed grade level classes of approximately 15 students each.

How do I register my child for summer school?

Registration forms are available at the front desk, or may be downloaded via the link below.

Summer Scholars Registration Form

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