Teaching had never crossed my mind until my senior year of college. Up until that point, I was 100 percent sure that I’d be working to combat domestic and international terrorists with the FBI or CIA—much more closely related to my majors (criminal justice and sociology) and my minor (global terrorism studies). However, I vividly remember sitting down with a Teach For America (TFA) recruiter in an on-campus Starbucks and instantly falling in love with the organization. I soon applied and was accepted into the TFA Washington, D.C. region—my hometown. I was so excited to have the chance to serve the community that I grew up in at my placement school, Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School. Five years later, and I’m still here loving every single moment!
Ingenuity Prep PCS is located in the heart of Ward 8 and currently serves Pre-K through 5th grade. In this ward of the nation’s capital, the median family income is roughly $24,000, making it the city’s poorest ward with a poverty rate of nearly 50 percent. We typically see that schools in neighborhoods with such stark circumstances do not perform on par with schools in more affluent areas—even within the same city—which is why it’s so important for schools like mine to serve as a proof point that students living in low-income neighborhoods can achieve great feats! My time at Ingenuity Prep has allowed for me to serve my community, develop as a leader, and witness how joyful, rigorous, and targeted instruction throughout the year—including summer school—can completely change the trajectory of a student's life.
Ingenuity Prep’s Summer Academy provides an opportunity for students to receive that same joyful, rigorous, and targeted instruction that will help to close the opportunity gap. I currently serve as Dean of Summer Academy, supporting students to close the opportunity gap. The gap must be closed and to do this, it is vital to invest in a student’s summer learning as it holds so many benefits. This includes the deterrence of the “summer slide” or summer learning loss. Many studies have concluded that socioeconomic-based reading gaps tend to grow even more over the summer—middle-class students showed consistent improvement and lower-income students tended to experience a loss of material. The summer slide cannot be an option for our students who are already at-risk, which is why it is crucial to provide additional opportunities for student learning.
Summer Academy provides the chance for students to relearn and reinforce skills that were not mastered throughout the previous school year—especially for students with learning disabilities. Summer Academy also provides the opportunity for students already on or above grade level to challenge themselves and get ahead of the curve. Students receive a mix of small-group targeted literary instruction (guided reading), whole-class literary instruction (read aloud), and personalized instruction through online literacy and math software. This allows for students to get multiple ‘at-bats’ of academic instruction to improve fluency and comprehension across all major subjects. Throughout Summer Academy, students also engage in physical education, literary book clubs, recess, and social-emotional learning. This well-balanced and personalized approach during the summer months sets students up for success by improving their work habits, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as continues to build perseverance. It has been such a pleasure to watch these students dive in and finally have their “ah-ha!” moments and I’m so excited to witness the growth that they all will make this upcoming school year!
Davian Morgan is a native Washingtonian and proud alumni of the University of Maryland College Park (BA ‘14) and Johns Hopkins University (M.Ed ‘16). He is a 5th-year teacher at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. and currently serves as the Dean of Summer Academy. Davian is also the Founder/CEO of Hopeful HoriSONS, Inc., a nonprofit to support boys living in low-income neighborhoods. Davian was a 2014 Teach For America-DC region corps member and currently serves as a board member for the region’s chapter of PRISM - a national initiative to provide ongoing support of LGBTQ students, teachers, and allies.