Horizons demonstrates measurable successes

The summer slide!

It sounds like a fun outdoors activity, like maybe a waterslide, or a slide in one of our local parks.

But it’s not.  It’s something less pleasant, less fun, and that if not addressed, it’s something that can blight a young person’s life.

Mitzi Perdue

The “summer slide” refers to the fact that during summer, when youngsters aren’t in school, they typically lose about two months of proficiency in math. However, when it comes to reading, there’s an enormous disparity in what low-income kids lose and what other kids lose.

While their middle-class peers often gain at least a little in reading proficiency, the low-income youngsters will typically have their reading scores “slide” by two months over the summer vacation.

Why the disparity in reading between these two groups?  The low-income group typically has less exposure to reading during the summer.

Their parents are less likely to read to them or take them to cultural events.

Unfortunately (if not tragically) the “summer slide” in reading is cumulative. The young person who starts the year behind his or her peers may not catch up. The next year, he or she may be still further behind.

The “summer slide” will mean the child does less well in school, and this leads to demoralization.  The discouragement that can come from being perpetually behind is one of the major reason low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or to attend college.

Only 60 percent of children from high poverty areas in the U.S. graduate from high school. The national average for high school graduation is 80 percent.

Yvonne Terry, the new Executive Director of Horizons, knows all about these discouraging facts.

“There’s nothing worse,” she says, “than when you know you’re behind and you’re getting bad test scores.”

That’s the unfortunate part. The fortunate part is, her organization has a tremendous track record for turning this situation around.

“Our six-week summer program provides academic enrichment, plus we have confidence-building exercises, and cultural enrichment.”

The program helps at-risk students from Pre-K through 12th grade, and to Terry’s delight, the first class that went through the entire program graduated in 2015. Amazingly 10 out of the 11 went on to higher-learning institutions.

This matches the experience of Horizons national. An amazing 96 percent of youngsters who are part of the Horizons program finish high school. Most continue with their education.

One of the many reasons the program has been so successful is the kids get to see some of the rewards that can come with finishing high school.

“We take them on college field trips, such as to UMES or SU,” says Terry. “They tour the campus, and they tell us, ‘I want to do that! I can’t wait!’”

Terry needs a lot of help from the community to keep the program flourishing.  To start with, she’d very much appreciate donations in any amount.  “We need money to help bring in high the quality certified teachers that help make the summer program a success.”

She also would love to have additional funds to pay for instructional supplies and to pay a swimming instructor for the summer.

She’d very much like to hear from you.  You can contact her by email, Yvonne@salisburyhorizons.org.  Or call her at 410-572-4046.

There’s also a highly informative and attractive website: www.SalisburyHorizons.org.



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