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Summer programs help area students, educators with learning loss

Students in the District of D.C. fell behind during the first year of the pandemic by about five to six months in language arts and math, researchers found. The Youth Leadership Foundation has been able to fully conduct its sessions with students in-person after two years of virtual and hybrid lessons. About 150 students enroll in the summer program each year. Students in Virginia and Maryland are struggling the most in reading and math during the summer, the foundation's director says. Billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds have been allocated for education, some of which has gone to summer learning and enrichment programs hosted by schools and other organizations, including the Youth Leadership foundation. Some students say they feel as though they are learning more this summer.

The Youth Leadership Foundation’s summer program teaches core curriculums and extracurriculars. It also offers one-on-one mentoring for students. In Maryland, a summer program is teaching principals and other administrators how to use an individualized approach to aid students experiencing learning gaps. The School Improvement Summer Institute is guiding school leaders on how to solve tough problems related to student achievement, Segun Eubanks said. In-person classes, Kingston Kershaw, a rising fourth-grader at Tyler Elementary in the District, said he's excited to be back in the classroom in-person, since he has always loved learning. “I actually love doing math games and questioning stuff — that's been pretty fun for me,” Kingston said.”

Obiniyi says he tried to keep all the lessons engaging by incorporating hands-on activities and tying them to the students' lives. He handed out worksheets that directed students to set their own goals for how to sleep and eat better. "You all have taught me a lot over the course of the summer," he says.