News

Summer Program Brings In Youth Leaders As Teachers

The nonprofit behind the camp, iEducate, believes that elementary school students can learn from high schoolers — and also look up to them

Daracristhin Pereira Romero is a rising senior at Eastwood Academy and a master teacher with iEducate.
Daracristhin Pereira Romero is a rising senior at Eastwood Academy and a master teacher with iEducate.

Several hundred Houston elementary students kept up their skills this summer at classes that felt like summer camp. And they learned from students who weren’t too much older than they are.

On a recent afternoon at Dogan Elementary in Fifth Ward, two fourth graders played cards at their desk. Except it’s really a math game: who’s the fastest to spot the biggest number.

“Ah, you won!” one exclaimed.

Next to them, their main teacher, Daracristhin Pereira Romero, watched. She’s 17 years old and a rising senior at Eastwood Academy.

“I teach them the material beforehand, so that when they get to fifth grade, it’s easier for them to process what the teacher is telling them,” she said.

The nonprofit behind the camp, iEducate, believes that elementary school students can learn from high schoolers — and also look up to them.

Pereira Romero said that happens a lot.

“So they confide in us, like things that they wouldn’t normally tell other teachers, and that really helped us understand why or why not the kid is engaged in class,” she said.

The nonprofit will track how much participants from the camp improve next year. 

Volunteer Anusha Sood quizzes students Nallely Cedillo and Mariana Rosa on financial literacy.
Volunteer Anusha Sood quizzes students Nallely Cedillo and Mariana Rosa on financial literacy.

“It’s supposed to be summer school that feels like summer camp,” said Arun Gir, executive director of iEducate. “Because even if these students might have passed the STAAR exam, they might have passed ‘approaching standard,’ they’re still struggling, they’re still going to have challenges down the road, so every student here needs reinforcements in academics.

The core classes are math, science and reading. But there are many enrichment activities that go beyond that: yoga, financial literacy, lemonade day for entrepreneurship, robotics and debate. Many of those are offered by other nonprofit partners.

Gir said that iEducate as well as some those partners are surveying students in other areas, like how much they’ve boosted their self confidence and attitudes about learning.

Elementary school students José de Jesús and Gerardo Figueroa build a tower out of spaghetti. At the iEducate summer enrichment program, they're coached on academics and also their self confidence.
Elementary school students José de Jesús and Gerardo Figueroa build a tower out of spaghetti. At the iEducate summer enrichment program, they’re coached on academics and also their self confidence.

 

Share

Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

More Information