A Summer Like No Other for Jordan
It wasn’t a typical summer at all for Jordan, a third-grade student in New Britain. For three weeks, Jordan spent afternoons with his peers performing heel turns, pirouetting and keeping rhythm in the Summer Enrichment Experience (S.E.E.).
His favorite? The headstand it took nearly all three weeks to master. And because of the handstand he can execute, Jordan has the tools he needs to be a better student.
The dance moves Jordan learned during S.E.E., an innovative summer school initiative, required him to develop and demonstrate a number of skills identifies as being critical to a student’s success in school and life, including listening, asking and answering questions, and the use of new vocabulary.
S.E.E., established in 2011, is a collaborative of the New Britain Youth Network, Coalition for New Britain’s Children, Consolidated School District of New Britain, United Way, and 21 community organizations.
The program combines mornings of academics with afternoon enrichment programs, such as Jordan’s dance class, to give students who have performed below grade level in literacy development on standardized tests, an opportunity to develop and strengthen essential skills for success in school.
In Jordan’s case, he not only demonstrated a mastery of those skills this summer, but his participation in S.E.E. also allowed him to avert a loss of learning skills over summer break and develop a passion for an activity that has him thinking about a successful future.
“I like dancing a lot,” says Jordan. “I want to be a famous dancer.”
“Jordan definitely has potential for a future in dance,” says Carolyn Paine, lead choreographer of CONNetic Dance, one of S.E.E.’s community partners.
“In the beginning, Jordan and his classmates thought dancing was all about tutus, but, by the end, the whole class learned a vast amount of technique and vocabulary. They also learned that dancing is a great way to express yourself, but it is a skill that takes lots of strength and control.”
Jordan’s success in the dance class resulted in him being awarded a scholarship to continue his dancing and learning with Carolyn and her company.
In 2014, S.E.E. provided instruction and interactive learning activities to nearly 700 New Britain students. Of those in the program who completed pre- and post-tests, 80 percent showed improvement in literacy skills.