Easthampton mayor to launch summer academy for STEM learning

  • Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2022 7:02:44 PM
Modified: 6/14/2022 7:00:28 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city is offering Easthampton students a leadership and academic experience this July with the launch of the Mayor’s Academy.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Catapult Learning of Camden, New Jersey, have partnered to bring free reading programming as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities to 30 city youth, one day a week for five weeks.

“We are testing families’ appetite for high quality, fun, STEM content in small groups close to neighborhoods,” said LaChapelle. “Depending on interest and quality, the city will look to expand the program to school breaks.”

Catapult Learning provides kindergarten through 12th grade contracted instructional services of academic learning and social-emotional learning, which develops the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills. The organization also provides educators with professional and coaching development.

Having been familiar with the organization’s programs run elsewhere, LaChapelle said she contacted Catapult Learning to see if they would be able to run a small pilot program in Easthampton.

“Caretakers and public schools have a lot on their plates. We are hoping that this program gives a little space to everybody,” she said.

LaChapelle said she invited the school department to an early meeting with the organization, but school officials were not interested as they host other summer programming.

Molly Cavanaugh, director of strategic partnerships at Catapult Learning, described the Mayor’s Academy as “special” as Catapult Learning’s partnerships are typically with schools and superintendents.

“I think it speaks volumes to the mayor’s interest in really supporting students and families,” she said.

Although the contract has not been finalized yet, the preliminary amount quoted to the city if 30 kids sign up would be $16,089, according to Lindsi Mailler, executive assistant in the mayor’s office. The program will be paid with American Rescue Plan Act funds, said LaChapelle.

The program will be staffed by local educators and supported by Catapult Learning, according to Jennifer O’Reilly, regional director at Catapult Learning. Students will be split into three groups of 10. 

“We expect to be hiring Easthampton district staff to lead this program. … This is an opportunity to extend academic learning by exposing students to literacy, math and science concepts through the summer,” said O’Reilly. “This program helps bridge learning and prevents learning loss.”

Programming is available for students enrolled in third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades with an age-appropriate curriculum customized for Easthampton, Cavanaugh said. 

“All of our programs are custom designed and developed based on needs of whomever we’re partnering with,” said Cavanaugh. “Our programming offers an additional opportunity for engagement in a safe positive learning environment.”

Programming will be held every Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to noon, beginning on July 5 and running until Aug. 2. Transportation and to-go lunches will also be provided with the Mayor’s Academy.

Enrollment will be prioritized by the date of receipt of registration, which is open until Sunday, June 17.

To register, visit https://forms.gle/PoMwGd1Tya8B9qUn6. A link is also available on the city’s website, easthamptonma.gov.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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