Governor visits students submerged in summer learning

By: - July 26, 2023 4:35 pm

Gov. Dan McKee watches a student measure and cut PVC pipe. (Rhode Island Current/ Jocelyn Jackson)

PROVIDENCE — A student in a red shirt and goggles cutting PVC pipe at the Gov. Christopher DelSesto Middle School caught the attention of Gov. Dan McKee Tuesday.

“What do you think it’s gonna be?” McKee asked.

“It’s gonna be a robot!” the student said. “A robot that goes underwater.”

“A robot that goes underwater? Nice!” McKee said.

McKee along with Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and Providence Public School District (PPSD) Superintendent Javier Montañez toured the DelSesto middle school Tuesday morning to see students attending Providence’s summer school learning program. 

DelSesto Middle School is one of four institutions hosting the six week program.

“What you see today is really hands-on learning,” Infante-Green said. “The kids [are] really implementing math, science reading to actually have a culminating project that could lead to a career for them.”

The governor’s office said over 2,400 students are attending. Infante-Green said every student that wanted to attend was able to; no applications or payments were needed. 

McKee also took the opportunity to promote part of his Learn365 initiative, a program aiming to reach Massachusetts levels of test scores, attendance and other measures, by creating learning opportunities outside of the regular school day and year. 

The program has received criticism for being perceived as performative, a critique the governor disagrees with. 

“High-quality summer learning programs are essential for our students’ growth and success, and they are a critical piece of our plans to shift from 180 days of learning to 365,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “PPSD’s summer learning programs are a shining example of how we can provide engaging and impactful educational experiences for our students, ensuring their continued academic progress.”

Before working on the submersibles, the students spent two weeks studying energy and electricity, said Donna Casanova, the program’s Supervisor of Science. Although reading and writing are also included into the curriculum, these assignments focused on math and science. 

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the students participate in experiential learning activities displaying new methods of education. This form of engagement is part of an effort to shape education around students’ needs to increase opportunities for success, Montañez said. 

“We want our kids to reach their potential so that [in] years to come they’re in a position where they can pick and choose what they want to do with their lives and their career paths,” said McKee.


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Jocelyn Jackson
Jocelyn Jackson

A senior journalism major at Roger Williams University, Jocelyn Jackson was the editor-in-chief of the Hawks’ Herald student newspaper. She previously served as the paper’s opinions editor for the school newspaper. She is scheduled to receive her B.A. in journalism in December.