Summer Mentorship Program: Worth Giving Up Beach Time?

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Keren Kubersky '21 presented her project on sustainable fashion at the end of the summer.

Eric Kalimi ’22

Because of rigid school curriculums, Ramaz students often think of learning as a tedious chore, but it can also be one of the most fun and rewarding ways to pass time. Students were able to learn this valuable lesson through the college guidance’s new Summer Mentored Program.

In early June, the college guidance office announced the new mentorship program, where rising juniors and seniors had the opportunity to participate in a teacher-guided independent learning project. In an email sent to the students, Ms. Dana Messinger, the Dean of College Guidance, wrote, “A summer project can be in a number of fields, including computer science, history, Judaic studies, art, creative writing, chesed, science, business, math, journalism, communications and social media, and music (to name just a few)” and that “these projects do not need to be purely academic.” At the end of the summer, students are expected to produce a final project. Ramaz’s curriculum does not offer this wide range of choices to students hoping to learn and develop a new skill, therefore, many jumped at the chance to participate.

Students have really benefited from this program. Harry Katz ’22 is studying the history and language of Yiddish with a Ramaz Middle School general studies teacher, Mr. Nachum Lerner. Katz said, “I think it’s a fun project, plus I feel like I’m learning something useful.” Brayden Serphos ’22 is exploring the power of graffiti with Ms. Barbra Abramson. He said that he “loves [his] super fun project!” This program allowed students to explore their passions in a non-academic environment. 

Summer vacation is the well-deserved break that many students look forward to from the moment the school year begins. The email from Ms. Messenger stated that the mentorship program required at least six hours of independent work per week for five weeks. Students were originally wary to commit to this sizable amount of work, but most feel that the benefits of the project outweighed the negatives, especially since many students’ original summer plans were canceled. Ronnie Alweiss ’22, who is studying rock and jazz music theory, says that the workload is “not too bad.” He explained, “It doesn’t seem like a lot when you’re enjoying what you’re learning.” Anna Braun ’22 acknowledged the large amount of work, but notes that the project is self-paced and easy to fit into her schedule. Overall, students felt they made the right decision to invest their time in studying a subject of their choice, despite the toll it took on their summer break. 

The college guidance office created a program that enables students to learn about their interests, and most of the participants are enjoying their personalized studies. This positive learning experience will create a deeper motivation for students to pursue their passions outside of the regular school curriculum.