Community partnership brings unique summer program to Paulding site

Horizons National summer program

Program aims to help low-income children avoid the “summer slide” KENNESAW, Ga. (June…

Georgia (Jun 29, 2015)Program aims to help low-income children avoid the “summer slide”

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 29, 2015) – A unique summer program aimed at stopping the infamous “summer slide” has come to Kennesaw State University.

Horizons National – a transformational, community-centered program that closes achievement and opportunity gaps for low-income children – is hosting 15 students for a six-week summer program at Kennesaw State’s Paulding site. The program is being funded by a nearly $40,000 grant from Horizons.

“The first week was absolutely awesome,” said Terri Collins, Bagwell College of Education assistant director for education and educational outreach at Paulding and site director for the summer program. “We have small classes focused on reading, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and art, led by professional teachers.”

In addition to the classroom instruction, students also participate in weekly field trips and swimming lessons three times a week.

“The swimming lessons provide the students with confidence, self-esteem and exercise,” Collins said. “The field trips provide them with experiences and opportunities they might otherwise not have.”

According to Collins, the program began when the headmaster of a private school realized his facility wasn’t used at all during the summertime, and he had the idea to use the space to help stop the “summer slide.”

“Children lose about three months worth of instruction time during the summer, if they don’t have these experiences and activities,” Collins said. “And, once they start behind, they’re always behind. If you do the math, by the fifth grade, they’re almost two-and-a-half years behind.”

The program takes rising first graders and will follow them through the eighth grade, hosting a summer program each year that will take another 15 rising first graders yearly.

“So our numbers are multiplying each year,” Collins said. “The high school graduation rate is around 75 percent in Paulding County, and we need to address these issues in elementary school.”

Partnering with Horizons National is exactly the type of community engagement the university seeks out, according to Executive Director of Community Engagement Brian Wooten.

“The Paulding site was a beautiful place for us to start this because they are so connected to that community already,” Wooten said. “The impact can be quite significant as we grow into maturity with this program.”

During the first week of the program, visitors from Horizons National, based in Westport, Conn., were on site and impressed with what they saw, Wooten said.

“As they left, they said, ‘we not only saw the magic in this program, we felt it,’” Wooten said. “We see this as a model of what we want to do. We want to see the university playing a partnership role with the community, locally, regionally and nationally.”

– Jennifer Hafer

--Photo by Anthony Stalcup


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit