Did you know that summer is often called the “most unequal time of year?” I was motivated to join the Horizons at SFFS Board upon learning this. Incredibly, summer learning loss in elementary school alone accounts for two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between low-income and middle-income children. Horizons reduces this summer learning gap by giving Mission kids the academic support and enriching experiences that more affluent parents can typically provide. Read more about Horizons in this recent KQED story: “How Can Private Schools Contribute to the Public Good?”
I am teaming up with kindergarten parent Shalinee Thakur (Myles) to encourage parents to attend the upcoming fundraiser for Horizons on January 31, 2019. This is a fun, inspiring event to meet other Friends parents and directly support low-income kids growing up in our Mission neighborhood.
Shalinee also felt an immediate connection to Horizons when she became a part of the greater Friends family last year. “The values of inclusion and community ring very true in the work done by Horizons,” Shalinee says. "Supporting kids who can benefit most from summer learning feels like creating an extension of the environment we are trying to cultivate at Friends. Most significantly, Horizons builds confidence in kids whom we hope will share their love for learning with their peers into the traditional school year.”
The benefit will have an educational and inspirational lineup of speakers. The keynote this year will be given by Dr. Alejandra Rincón, the chief of staff of UCSF’s Office of Diversity and Outreach and an advocate for educational equity. The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. on January 31 at SOMArts, a gallery and cultural center located close to the school. Wine, small bites, and desserts will be served, and lots of Friends School parents as well as members of the greater community will attend. Early bird tickets are on sale now—get yours before prices go up on January 14.
Please be in touch if you have any questions about the event. And, if you can’t attend the event but would still like to learn more about Horizons, please reach out!
The end of the school year at Friends signals the beginning of another exciting time at 250 Valencia: Horizons at SFFS’s fifth summer of providing free programming to low-income students in our neighborhood. Almost all Horizons students—99%—will return from last summer, and we will welcome a new class of 17 kindergartners from Buena Vista, Marshall, and Mission Prep elementary schools. With the addition of this new class, 85 students entering grades K–5 will learn, explore, and challenge themselves at Horizons this summer.
As the program expands, we have exciting new offerings like kayaking and rock climbing in store for our students. Of course, all students will continue with their favorite activity, swim lessons, and we will repeat other beloved experiences like our Exploratorium and Academy of Sciences field trips. The most important component of our program, three hours of academic instruction each day, will be enhanced by the growth of our specialist staff to include a full and half-time reading specialist and a half-time curriculum and instructional lead. Another exciting and much-needed new program element is a partnership with the Columbia Park Boys & Girls Club that will allow us to provide working parents with aftercare.
SFFS will be well-represented at Horizons this summer. Our summer staff of 16 will include SFFS teachers Tanya Cotom and Angie Gonzalez; former SFFS TA Erick Reyna; and David Rupright, a Friends School alum. There will be other familiar faces around the program as Jennifer Arnest, Kristen Daniel, and Anhvu Buchanan have volunteered to teach elective classes with our kindergartners, and Horizons’ 2017–2018 AmeriCorps VISTA member Veronica Oberholzer will be taking over as our summer program coordinator as she finishes her VISTA year. A new VISTA member, Blackberrie Eddins, will join our staff at the end of June. We are proud that our staff is majority bilingual and includes several teachers who attended the same elementary schools as our students. Learn more about our staff on our website.
Sixteen generous high schoolers, almost all of whom are Friends School graduates, have volunteered to spend their summer as classroom assistants at Horizons. Many of them cite positive experiences in their classrooms at Friends as their inspiration to give back, and look forward to their own teaching careers.
We love to showcase the learning that happens on the Friends School campus when school is out. Please contact Horizons Executive Director Abby Rovner to set up a time to visit Horizons and see our students in action. And be sure you've liked us on Facebook so you can follow all of our adventures this summer!