Lauren Reilly, Champion of Change for Summer Learning
Practice Makes Perfect is absolutely ecstatic to announce that our Program Director, Lauren Reilly, will be honored at The White House this Friday, February 26th, as a Champion of Change for Summer Opportunity. Lauren has worked tirelessly for the past two years to ensure that students throughout New York City do not suffer from summer learning loss. Through PMP, Lauren has made it her mission to create a solution to our nation's summer school crisis. In addition to improving the quality of training, Lauren oversaw the integration of a home visits program, a merit-pay system, and one of the most selective internship programs in the US.
Lauren’s first priority has always been what is in the best interest of her students and what is going to help her work them toward success. Get a better look into Lauren’s journey through the education system and her reasoning behind her great passion to end summer learning loss and combat the achievement gap through her story below:
Lauren: "When I taught in the Bronx and Harlem, I remember feeling constantly defeated. Growing up I was blessed with books that replaced Spongebob and dinner conversations that were rich with new vocabulary, while for my students—education was a fourth priority, crippled first by safety, shelter, and food.
I tried to solve many of the problems. I had cereal in my cabinets, deodorant in my drawers, and a smile on my face as I taught students to fall in love with history. Each year, my students knew I had their best interests in mind. Until summer came. During summer I couldn’t make that difference. There were no opportunities for my kids then. And when they came back to school in the fall? It felt like starting over. Any progress we had made over the school year was gone.
I joined Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) to further develop a program that not just solved the “summer slide” but also helped students develop an intrinsic motivation for learning year round. Today, PMP is an evidenced-based, direct service summer school provider that drives student outcomes using an innovative near-peer mentoring model. Now I’m able to give my kids an opportunity for summer learning, while also making it fun!
Historically, summer was a time where students lost knowledge. For me, it is a time to “summer forward.” It is a chance for scholars to make long-lasting relationships with older, high achieving mentors who come from the same inner-city neighborhoods. It is an opportunity to develop the soft skills like perseverance and leadership. Ultimately—the summer is when we canchange a life trajectory.
When I was teaching I felt like my students and I were on an island. With PMP, our students finally have the support systems in place to truly create praxis. To escape the island and see that success is tangible and not so daunting after all."