success stories





Mariah had just finished the 6th grade at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester, MA. She was having difficulty in school - particularly in math - and she was often disengaged in the classroom. Her teachers felt that she needed extra help to strengthen her math skills, become more engaged in school, and prepare herself to succeed in the 7th grade. They encouraged her to enroll in BELL Summer, one of four programs in 10 cities supported by the National Summer Learning Association's Smarter Summers initiative and funded by Walmart. Mariah realized that this was a chance for her to turn around her performance and become a better student. 

"I liked BELL Summer," says Mariah. "We got extra time to learn more so that when we went back to school, we'd be able to excel."

When BELL Summer started, Mariah was the first scholar to walk through the school doors. She lived nearby and walked to BELL Summer every morning, and was always the first to arrive. Her teacher, Mr. Williams, encouraged Mariah to work hard and focus on her math skills. He - and all of the teachers at the BELL Summer program - made a point of honoring scholars at the start of each day for their hard work and perseverance, and Mariah found herself being recognized more and more for her efforts. She was experiencing success in the classroom, and growing more and more comfortable and confident with her own skills. 

Mariah was also enjoying learning about new things during the enrichment component of BELL Summer. She learned how to play tennis through a partnership with the local community organization Tenacity, and she participated in a course introducing scholars to law - even playing the role of prosecutor in a skit during the program's closing ceremony. On one "Mentor Friday," Mariah and her peers visited the New England Aquarium, sparking another newfound interest in science. In recollecting about last summer's program, she beams as she talks about going to the aquarium and spending time in the touch tank with sharks and rays, and visiting Boston College and checking out a few classes and the biology lab. She explains that she wants to go to college and become a vet - and she's prepared to go to vet school as well. 

In the span of five weeks, Mariah transformed from a disengaged student struggling in math to an excited scholar eager to learn new things. She gained new skills and was exposed to career paths that she had never before considered. She gained self-confidence and direction, and entered the 7th grade more prepared to succeed thanks to Smarter Summers. In the new school year, she started participating in a debate team after school and exercising her persuasion skills. 

"BELL Summer helped me do better in school. I got an A in math and a B+ in ELA. And think I'm going to go good on the test!" she explains, referencing the upcoming MCAS exam.