“Summer slide” isn’t the name of a new ride at the waterpark. It is what happens to the academic performance of many urban students during the summer months. Summer learning loss helps put low-income students as much as three years behind by the fifth grade.
Enter Horizons National and one of its award-winning leaders and proponents, Luis Perez.
For more than 25 years, Luis has been working to transform the lives of inner city kids, to give them the academic and life skills they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. And that is what makes him a perfect fit for the Horizons program.
Horizons National is a transformative, educational summer enrichment program serving low-income public school students with a broad range of academic abilities.
At the heart of every Horizons community is a partnership between public and private institutions. Each summer, public school students spend six weeks on the campuses of independent and post-secondary schools, engaged in high quality academics along with cultural enrichment and confidence-building activities.
Given an opportunity to attend for nine consecutive summers, Horizons students return to their own schools in the fall better prepared for learning in every aspect.
As Executive Director of the Horizons program at The Harley School In Rochester, New York, Luis Perez has seen the positive impact on the students and on the community. Luis is a man of faith and action, two qualities that help make Horizons the success that it is.
Horizons’ educational model combines academics with arts, sports, and cultural enrichment – a combination which has been confirmed by recent research as the most effective approach to summer learning programs addressing the achievement gap.
In 2013, 87% of Horizons students nationwide graduated from High School, compared to the national average graduation rate for a similar demographic of 56%. And Horizon students gain an average of two to three months in reading and math skills each summer.
Learning to swim is a key component of the Horizons summer experience. Nearly 70% of African-American children and 58% of Hispanic children have low or no swim ability, putting them at a higher risk for drowning. Most of the Horizon students arrive not knowing how to swim and fearful of the water. Overcoming this fear and learning to trust qualified instructors builds their self-esteem and encourages risk-taking in the classroom.
Founded in 1964 in New Canaan, Connecticut, Horizons has grown to comprise 20 programs, serving 4-thousand students across the country, in kindergarten through eighth grade.
It is a testament to the success of Horizons that many families are involved for decades as siblings follow each other through the program and graduates return to volunteer or teach in the program.
At The Harley School, Luis Perez is leading Horizons students into another season of growth, success and fun. And what greater recommendation can there be than this-- imagine students actually looking forward to summer school!