This is a guest post by NCTL high school intern, Giancarlo. Giancarlo is an NCTL summer intern through the KIPP Alumni Career Explorations (ACE) internship program. The ACE program is part of the KIPP Through College (KTC) program which provides students and their families with the essential knowledge and preparation they will need for success climbing the mountain to and through college. He will be a rising senior at Lynn English High School and hopes to pursue a business degree in college.
My experience with KIPP and the expanded day began in 2005 when my class became the second class at the new school. In 2004, KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School was founded by Josh Zoia who was a long time teacher at KIPP Bronx in New York. The school shared space with a church and when I graduated we only had about 350 students in the entire school. Our school day ran from 7:20 am to 5:00 pm with early release at 3:00 on Fridays, and for the first two years that I was there we had Saturday school from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. We also had summer school for all students that started the second week of August and was from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. During Saturday school, the first hour and a half was spent doing homework and the rest of the time was spent in the electives. It was difficult for me to get used to this type of school but once I did, it made all the difference.
When I was introduced to the expanded school schedule, I wondered, “How are our teachers going to keep us engaged for ten hours a day?” After a few weeks of the new schedule, I was looking forward to my classes because we were learning differently than my friends at other schools. My teachers made learning fun by using games. The ability to spend more time on a subject was not fully appreciated until I left KIPP for traditional public school where my teachers do not have the time necessary with me. At first it was difficult adjusting to my traditional public school because the teachers did not have enough time to devote to individual support; but I had developed good habits in the classroom while at KIPP that I was able to adjust quickly.
My absolute favorite thing about having the longer school day was the fun that we had, like electives every day for an hour, field trips on a regular basis or the end of the year field trips for each grade to Washington DC, Utah and NY. When I earned those trips it was good feeling because it showed that all our hard work paid off. This is what KIPP really emphasized with us, that everything is worked for and we have to work hard to earn things in life.