There is only one more day of Brooks School's inaugural Brooks Connects virtual enrichment workshop and seminar series, but organizers recently revealed that the program — offered this summer in tandem with for-credit Summer Session academic courses — will continue throughout the year.
"We're just getting started!" said Brooks Connects coordinator Joanna McDonough, a history teacher. "This foundational summer for Brooks Connects has given us the tools to build community and learning experiences for our entire Brooks community — and we've learned that the community would like to see this type of programming during the year . . . as a point of connection and lifelong learning."
Brooks Connects is, by definition, a way for students, parents, alumni and everyone affiliated with Brooks to stay connected while physically apart. The free seminar- and workshop-based programming began June 29, offering a six-week series of stand-alone sessions guided by Brooks' core values of empathy, engagement, integrity, passion, confidence and creativity. Some examples: "Painting from Observation" (shown above), "Spreadsheeting 101," "Cooking with Mr. Davis," and an essay writing workshop, as well as weekly book club meetings.
The student book club was a popular pick. Brooksians committed to reading one book each week, and decided to read only authors of color, in a wide range of genres. Cooking classes were also in demand. Participants learned to make a variety of dishes from homemade pasta sauces to cookie-dough stuffed cupcakes.
"It has been so inspiring to see adults and students engaged together," said McDonough.
A few weeks after Brooks Connects began, the school also unrolled Brooks Summer Session, a series of three-week long courses taught by Brooks teachers (shown above) for students only to earn Brooks School credit, on July 13.
Twenty students signed up for one or two of the classes, which met in either the morning (9-11 a.m.) or afternoon (1-3 p.m.) and functioned much in the same way as Brooks' signature Winter Term courses. Each was designed to explore beyond the traditional curriculum, explore their passions and help students process current events:
- History of Pandemics
- Philosophy and Pop Culture/Introduction to Philosophy
- Plein Air Painting (shown below)
- Problem Solving 101
- "Still Waters" Creative Writing
- Voices of the Unheard: History of Protests in The United States
"Students really dove into their topics," said Summer Session coordinator and Chair of the History Department Michele Musto. In particular, she added, "I have been so impressed with our new incoming third and fourth formers in these classes. Their enthusiasm and work effort has been tremendous!"
Keeping student's brains engaged during the summertime is just one of the positives to come out of the new summer programs. Helping incoming students adjust is another, said Musto: "They have the opportunity to explore the people and the educational environment of Brooks before the worry, excitement, and stress of starting a new school hits in the fall."
"It's clear that our current students are seeking opportunities to explore topics that might not fit within their course load during the regular school year, or are just seeking practice or enrichment in a particular area," Musto shared. "They're also interested in topics that allow them to connect to their lives and current events as well. And summer is a great time to explore some of those topics."
Musto is convinced that others will benefit from their classmates' summer study, too. "Students will be able to bring these deep dives into ideas back into their classes in the fall to enrich the entire Brooks community," she said. "Personally, I look forward to seeing some of my summer students in class during the year and see how they applied these ideas in their classes during regular session. I know a few of them are going to truly impress their teachers in the fall with what they learned this summer!"
OTHER RECENT STORIES
School Spirit Day Success
Students, alumni, employees and friends of Brooks separated during the coronavirus crisis came together, virtually.