Giving Compass' Take:

• Principal Elizabeth Meyers working in Chicago Public Schools is redesigning her summer school program to entice more students.

• What are the tenets of a reliable and effective summer school program? How can communities help invest in summer school? 

• A study from RAND Corporation explains how to make summer education programs engaging for young people. 

During the summer, when the hallways of some Chicago schools are dark, Randolph Elementary School is ringing with children’s voices.

On a rainy morning, Principal Elizabeth Meyers listens to the giggles, the shouts, the sounds of summer. She watches her students paint a mural of dancing blue and red figures. This is a symbol of her philosophy — to give children a piece of the school, a voice in their community: a mural they will walk by everyday, a ceiling tile they decorated that will remain after they leave, a tangible stake in the building.

In a district where principal turnover presents a serious challenge to school communities, Chicago Public Schools is honing in on how to bolster leaders like Meyers by giving them the leadership training and autonomy to determine how to best serve their students.

Meyers just finished a 12-month program as a Chicago Principal Fellow, a partnership between the district and Northwestern University. She trained in leadership at the Kellogg School of Management, designed projects for her school, and met monthly with schools chief Janice Jackson to help shape district policies.

In thinking about strengthening students’ connection to school, Meyers came up with the idea of keeping the doors open year-round. This summer, she expanded and restructured summer school to include more enticing programs for more students.

Building off of the skills she gained in her fellowship, Meyers identified a lack of summer activities for students as her focus, so she decided to redesign summer programming at her school. Located in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side, Randolph can fill the void for child care when school is out, she said.

Read the full article about redesigning summer school programs in Chicago by Catherine Henderson at Chalkbeat.