Summer Bridge Activities and Family Engagement: Interview With Karen Barnett

Summer Bridge Activities and Family Engagement: Interview With Karen Barnett

Mar 25th 2022

Karen Barnett, Principal of the Bridgeton Municipal Alliance

It’s no secret that summer learning loss is real—especially for elementary-aged students. Karen Barnett, Director of the Bridgeton Municipal Alliance, which created and implements the IMAgined Possibilities Summer Bridge Academy, a collaborative with the Bridgeton Public Schools. Recently, Karen joined us to explain why Summer Bridge Activities ® workbooks are one of the best family engagement programs for both educators and parents to prevent learning loss and increase retention rates in children. Using Summer Bridge’s engaging workbook format, Karen has been able to unlock the potential in students for many years. Learn more about Karen and how the Bridgeton Municipal Alliance uses Summer Bridge Activities to help students propel their education forward!

Q: What are your thoughts on the importance of student learning and practice over breaks, especially longer breaks like over the summer?

Teacher helping student with activity in Summer Bridge Activities workbook

A: Research highlights the importance of helping youth in kindergarten through third grade recover reading and math skills during the critical out-of-school times during summer. Summer Bridge’s all-in-one format allows staff to embed critical core content, social-emotional learning, and play-based programming to develop the “whole child” and family.

Q: Due to the pandemic, teachers, parents, and children had to quickly adapt to unexpected conditions—teaching and learning in unprecedented ways while also working to continue to build the connection created with students and parents. How did the Summer Bridge Activities books support this learning?

Teacher helping student on Summer Bridge Workbook activity

A: With all that programs have experienced over the last several years, including funding reductions, terminations, and learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, programs have had to identify mechanisms to leverage their budgets while maximizing resources that engage reluctant learners and youth families who are mentally drained. The negative effects of interrupted learning on students is well documented and reflected in the standardized test scores. Intentional, creative, collaborative, and quality summer learning programs and materials are paramount to help all students catch up and propel forward. That is exactly what we found in the Summer Bridge pack.

Q: How did students, their families, and teachers react to the workbooks?

Child using laptop to help him with Summer Bridge workbook activity

A: The Summer Bridge Activity packs allow parents to become intricate partners and co-learners through engaging them in supplemental learning time with at-home extension activities. Teachers also love incorporating these packs into their less plans because they offer all the core content areas, specifically targeted for elementary-aged students to prevent learning loss in key subjects over the summer.

Q: Is there anything else you want us to know about Summer Bridge?

Summer Bridge Activities backpack filled with flash cards, reading books and more

A: The Bridgeton Municipal Alliance is proud to endorse and support the utilization of the Summer Bridge Activities packs. Their compact format allows our staff to create other interest-driven programs.  Summer Bridge Activities books are a cost-effective and qualitative tool in the collective effort to close the opportunity gap for our youth, especially during the summer and in their home.