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The Maret campus was bustling with activity throughout the summer as students and teachers joyfully greeted one another at the start of each day. But this wasn’t just any summer school experience—it was Horizons at Maret. Horizons' six-week summer enrichment program helps a diverse group of K-8 children develop a lifelong interest in learning, advances academic gains over the summer, and improves achievement in school. Alongside programs at Norwood and St. Patrick’s Episcopal School, Maret hosted about 130 students from around the city. Students are recommended by their teachers, and it is a sought-after summer opportunity.
Maret faculty member Marta Del Cid ’11 just finished her second year as Horizons Site Director at Maret and is excited to help spearhead this critical partnership. Ms. Del Cid has felt connected to the program for a long time. She remembers when Maret helped launch the first Horizons site in the District, partnering with H.D. Cooke Elementary School in 2000. This was an exciting development because she and other Maret upper schoolers had been going to Cooke on Wednesdays to tutor. Her older brother worked for many years as a Horizons Assistant Teacher (HAT). Serving as Site Director brings Ms. Del Cid’s connection to Horizons full circle.
Working with Horizons means so much to me. I was glad to have a great team this summer moving towards our mission of advancing educational equity, ensuring that our students have a thriving future, and inspiring the joy of learning!”—Site Director Marta Del Cid ’11
On a typical day, you might see HATS and volunteers from local colleges and high schools, including Maret and NCS, organize snacks in the hallway or help students get ready for swim lessons. You might see a rising third-grade class doing a read-aloud and considering how they might socialize with the characters, while fourth graders review equal groups in math class by looking at pictures of four stars inside three circles and thinking about what it means for 3x4 to equal 12. Meanwhile, fifth graders might be learning the Bullet Journal system, an excellent method for staying organized and being productive while expressing yourself personally. In the gym, colorful balls could be flying from one side to the other as first graders try to “clean up their backyards” by getting rid of the balls on their side.
Seventh-grade teacher Jah Jah Bey reflects, “Horizons is a summer-enrichment program, so learning has to be fun, comprehensive, and practical. These set of circumstances force me to constantly grow and improve as a teacher and person in order to create an optimal learning environment.” This summer, Mr. Bey led a unit on the Engineering Design Process (EDP). Students learned to: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve. Then, they used the EDP to create prototypes for refrigerator magnets and design spoons for eating ice cream. Finally, they used a 3-D printer to bring their plans to life. Another STEM highlight of this summer was the HTML websites programmed and written by students to share their voices.
Experiential learning is a key part of the formula for keeping young scholars joyfully engaged. Partnerships and field trips are important features of the program. The National Zoo is a popular site because of its proximity to Maret’s campus and the many possible links to various parts of the curriculum, from geography to biology. Horizons also has partnerships with Capital One Coders and Tregaron Conservancy. Because of the pandemic, many museums began offering virtual field trips, so some classes have even “traveled” to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Engaging families authentically is a hallmark of the Horizons Program. Ms. Del Cid explains, “One of my priorities this summer was ensuring every classroom had a Spanish-speak[ing] staff member, which was a blessing because it allowed our non-English speaking students and families to feel more connected with our program.” Ms. Del Cid hopes various constituencies within the Maret community will continue to deepen their involvement. There are opportunities for parents, students, and teachers to support the program at monthly gatherings during the school year and during the six-week summer session.
Horizons is one of the best reciprocal partnerships that I've ever had since the program fills my cup and provides a space where I can pour back into beautiful people from all walks of life.”—Teacher Jah Jah Bey
Earlier this year, Maret students and families were invited to Bancroft Elementary, one of the partner schools, for the Horizons Build-a-Book Event. Local author Valerie Tripp (best known for her American Girl book series) shared a reading from her new series for National Geographic: Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad. Ms. Del Cid hopes to build in more of these opportunities for connection. “We are not two isolated distinct communities,” she says. “We are one Horizons at Maret.”
Del Cid is proud of what she and the Horizons team accomplished this summer, “Our students noted at the end of our program how they were enthusiastic about our school-year programming and couldn't wait for the following summer, 2023!” Her dream is to have even greater community buy-in during the year whether people come in for a tour, volunteer for the Saturday academy, or prepare encouraging notes for students during their assessments.
For more information about how to get involved, contact Horizons Site Director at Maret Marta Del Cid at email@example.com.