A City Education: The Case for Academics During Spring Break

Providing service and learning opportunities for students during school vacations is essential.

In our A City Education series, two City Year corps members share their experiences working as tutors and mentors in schools in hopes of closing the achievement gap and ending the dropout crisis.

I don’t remember what I did during my elementary school vacations. I probably hung out with one or two friends and spent the rest of my time watching television or reading. It certainly was a relaxing way to spend my week, but nothing too memorable. My hope, however, is that the 600 students who participated in City Year New York’s Enrichment Week during the recent February break will have lasting vacation memories.

City Year corps members work during the school day to provide a positive school climate, but through initiatives like Enrichment Week, we also build a positive community environment. I served as one of the co-directors of Camp City Year in East Harlem for elementary school students. Since November, I’ve been attending meetings twice a week to help plan and develop these camps.

Even though kids are out of school, that doesn’t mean their parents get the day off work. Offering safe, fun, and free camp programs during Enrichment Week gives us the opportunity to ease the minds of busy parents and build relationships with them that create additional support for students. And scheduling trips and service projects throughout the week of camps allows the students to branch out into the community more than they would during a normal school week when the focus is on academics.

That doesn’t mean there’s not an emphasis on academic learning during Enrichment Week, but the camp format allows for more creativity in our lessons. For example, our theme this year was time travel, so each day we “traveled” to a different era. We wove history lessons into art projects, recreation activities, and assemblies. We ended our week of time traveling with a student showcase that allowed us to take a look at the future.

Providing additional academic-themed lessons is vital to student development, but perhaps the greatest impact we made was the service project. Students shared their newfound awareness of social issues and participated in environmentally themed service projects. Getting students to see themselves as key players in creating a positive community environment was important. Another special aspect of Enrichment Week was that students were able to serve and interact with students and City Year corps members from other schools, which ultimately helps them develop their social skills.

The camp will be one of the memories from my service year that really sticks with me—I can see myself coming back as a volunteer next year. Thanks to City Year, I can finally say I had a memorable school vacation.

Photo courtesy of City Year New York

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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