Jun 20, 2014

Happy National Summer Learning Day!

The Mayor, Superintendent, 2014 Maine Teacher of the year, and hundreds of students at East End Community School will be celebrating National Summer Learning Day -- and the last day of school -- by taking the Portland Pledge for Summer Success at an assembly to gear up for healthy, active learning all summer long.  And, many hundreds more students all across Portland will be doing the same.

Portland School Students Take

Pledge to Prevent "Summer Slide"

City Undertakes Effort to Keep School Students

Active, Learning & Eating Healthy Over the Summer


PORTLAND, Maine – Friday, June 20th is the last day of school, but that does not mean that learning, growth, and activity come to a stop.  In fact, Friday, June 20th is also National Summer Learning Day, just the beginning of a coordinated city effort to keep students healthy, active and learning in Portland this summer.


Too many children across the country, and right here in Portland, fall out of physical and academic shape during the summer.  For this year’s last day of school and National Summer Learning Day, Mayor Michael F. Brennan, Superintendent Manny Caulk, 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year Karen MacDonald and hundreds of teachers and school children at the East End Community School will kick off a summer of healthy, active summer learning by taking the Portland Pledge for Summer Success.


Over a century of research shows that too many kids nationwide are likely to lose ground academically through the summer.  Additional research shows that kids are less likely to stay active or eat healthy meals during the summer, which further hurts their growth.  This “summer slide” effect is even more pronounced for low-income children, who can fall as many as three years behind their peers by fifth grade.  Reading at grade level by third grade is a critical factor in a child’s success later on, so it is absolutely essential that students, families, and the entire community come together to ensuring healthy, active summer learning for every child throughout the summer.


That’s why Mayor Michael F. Brennan, Superintendent Caulk, and the partners at Portland ConnectED are seizing the opportunity this National Summer Learning Day to highlight a whole new ecosystem of summer learning in Portland.  And that’s also why the Mayor and Superintendent are challenging parents, children, and caregivers throughout Portland to take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success as an important first step on the road to success in September.


Recognizing that grade-level reading proficiency is a critical factor in determining eventual high school graduation and later success, Portland ConnectED has recently become the first city in northern New England to join the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a nationwide network of over 140 cities working together with schools, educators, and families to improve school readiness, to increase on-time attendance, and to ensure active learning all summer long.  As the recently released Portland ConnectED Baseline Report notes, summer learning is one of a few key strategies in supporting 120 more students to grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third grade, so that we can move from today’s 63% third grade reading proficiency rate to 85% by 2017.


Thanks to the work of Portland ConnectED partners throughout the city, including the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Portland Public Schools, the Portland Public Library, and the United Way of Greater Portland, many more students in Portland will be able to access enriching summer meals and high-quality, high-energy summer learning programs. 


In addition to sending the Bookmobile out to summer lunch sites in Portland, the Portland Public Library also invites children to any of its branches to participate in an array of summer reading adventures—with opportunities to win all kinds of great prizes along the way.


Thanks to the tremendous work of partners at Portland Public Schools, The Opportunity Alliance, Preble Street’s Maine Hunger Initiative, and Healthy Portland, children all over Portland will have access to free lunches at sixteen open food services sites in neighborhoods all over the city—including two brand new sites at Peppermint Park and the Portland Public Library.  And thanks to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Learning Works, the City of Portland, and others, all these sites will see more volunteer support and special activities than ever before. 


These are great steps that build on last year’s efforts, and well worth celebrating.  But we need everyone’s help in ensuring that all kids stay active, access regular and healthy meals, and continue to have fun learning throughout the summer.  It will take commitment from parents, families, and caregivers to ensure that our children continue to grow, develop skills, and come back to school in September ready to hit the ground running and forge ahead.


The opportunity to expand active summer learning lies in the hands of each and every one of us.  The city of Portland—including its library, trails, parks, and landmarks—offers an entire campus of learning opportunities.  So take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success now, and help every child in Portland seize opportunities for healthy eating and active learning every day of the summer.


More summer learning means higher reading proficiency, which increases the chances that students graduate high school and finish a post-secondary credential, all essential milestones on the pathway to economic and civic success.


Find more information and sign up online for the Portland Pledge for Summer Success at