Photo: Mark Wemple
Berkeley Prep headmaster Joe Seivold says it is the school's "responsibility to make a positive difference in the world."
Southwest Florida Roundup
Advantages: A private school focuses on helping low-income students
In Hillsborough County, only six of every 10 high school graduates from low-income families go on to college, vs. eight in 10 among their more affluent peers.
Experts say one factor is summer learning loss — the idea that students lose ground academically when they don’t engage in educational activities during summer break. Because summer camps and other enrichment programs can be expensive, the problem is especially acute for low-income students.
Several years ago, Tampa’s Berkeley Preparatory School, a private pre-K-12 institution, turned its attention to summer learning loss in the course of expanding its community outreach efforts.
To a large extent, Berkeley Prep students occupy a different world than those in nearby neighborhoods, where three in four children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.Founded in 1960, Berkeley Prep historically has had all of its graduates accepted at fouryear colleges. Annual tuition ranges from $17,560 to $23,660.
This month, Berkeley Prep will launch a sixweek summer learning program designed to give low-income, non-Berkeley students a competitive edge when they return to school in the fall.In addition to core classes and electives, they’ll learn strategies for college readiness, including writing essays and public speaking.
The program is for 40 rising seventhgraders who show academic promise and who meet the county school district definition of low income. They pay nothing, but must commit to participate in each of the next three summers and on one Saturday a month during the school year. Berkeley will then follow them through high school graduation with workshops and other activities. It plans to build the program one class at a time, for a total of 240 students by 2022.
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure they finish high school ready to succeed in college, says Berkeley Prep headmaster Joe Seivold.
“We could stay here behind our fence and just take care of our own,” he says. “But we all recognize our responsibility to make a positive difference in the world.”
80% Percentage of Hillsborough County high school graduates in 2011-12 who enrolled in a postsecondary institution within 16 months of graduation
61% Percentage of economically disadvantaged students, defined as students participating in free and reduced-price lunch programs, who enrolled in a post-secondary institution
Source: Florida Department of Education
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Women in Tech
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