Across the country, summer has been in full swing for weeks, if not months. Children have been out of school and in the midst of the hazy days of summer – camps, programs, summer school – for weeks. But in New York City, one school had a different idea.

The Mott Hall Charter School in the South Bronx just finished its school year yesterday. It has expanded its school year by nearly a full month – 28 additional days. Students attend school on twenty Saturdays as well eight days at the end of the year compared to surrounding schools. The end of the year is not filled with classes to simply fill the time; rather, days are filled with unique learning experiences ranging from yoga, rowing, and having a behind-the-scenes lesson from a chef at a Amali, a restaurant on NYC’s East Side – all of which are in line with the school’s mission to provide engaging, authentic work opportunities.

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Even though the students live less than 10 miles away, the visit to the restaurant was many of the students first time visiting Union Square and a restaurant like Amali. Those types of hands-on, real world learning experiences can be eye opening and inspire students to explore the world outside their neighborhoods and chase their dreams. This school is another example of the opportunities schools can provide when they have autonomy over their calendar. These trailblazers show that having more time doesn’t mean  simply doing more of the same but instead it’s a way to redesign how we keep students engaged and learning all year long. (Photo Credit: NY1)