Why I Believe in ELT

Today’s blog is written by summer intern, Jeanie Mai. She attended an ELT middle school, KIPP Academy in Lynn, and is now going into her first year at Salem State University majoring in athletic training.

Every child should be given an expanded learning time (ELT) education, but most don’t have that opportunity. Fortunately, I lived in an area where an ELT school had just opened up, and conveniently, in the grade I was going into. The ELT school was a charter school known as KIPP Academy in Lynn, MA (KAL). Classes started from seven in the morning and lasted until five in the evening, with each period lasting one hour. I was very hesitant to go at first because I didn’t want to spend another couple of hours doing homework on top of getting out late, but I soon learned all that time was well worth it and the best decision I’ve ever made. With more hours in the school day I was given more time to learn and now had the time to fully understand what was being taught to me.

In our expanded time schedule we had two periods for math, regular math in the morning, and a problem solving class in the afternoon that corresponds with the morning class. Our teachers came up with fun and creative methods to keep us engaged; I remember a fun class in seventh grade we learned about percentages and my teacher took the beat of “Step by Step” by “The New Kids on the Block” and changed the lyrics to how to get the percentage of any number, step by step. Two hours of math really helped me learn because if I didn’t understand something from the morning I could go over it in the afternoon. The additional time and fun methods like these helped a lot when I got to high school. I was placed in basic algebra, my freshman year, but using what I was taught, I won the “Excellence in Math” award for my class and got bumped up to Honors math my next three years.

With more time to learn there was also more time to play. KAL wasn’t just successful in the classroom because of the expanded day, but also on the court. I was captain of the girls’ basketball varsity team and we went undefeated in our league for all my three years on the team and won every tournament we were invited to. We had more time in our day to practice than the other schools we faced and it definitely helped us to be as successful as we were. The more time and effort you put into something, whether it’s for practice or studying, the better the results you see.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ELT high school (KALC). It was definitely a hard transition going from an ELT middle school to a regular school day in high school. The difference became clear my senior year in pre-calc class. The math taught to me from freshman to junior year, I already learned from KIPP, but pre-calc was entirely new to me. I went from being a high honors student when I had two hours of learning math to a C average student having one 45 minute period of math in my senior year. My teacher would fly by an entire chapter in 30 minutes and I struggled for most of the year. I wish I had the opportunity to attend KALC because I would have benefitted more. I believe in ELT because I know the benefits of it first-hand and it helped me gain good habits that I carried into high school and probably for the rest of my life.