East Boston’s Donald McKay School Will Resume Learning on Thompson Island This Fall

Students from East Boston’s Donald McKay School will return to Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center this school year, the non-profit announced today. Donald McKay School is part of Thompson Island Outward Bound’s multi-year Connections programs, which combines hands-on science with Outward Bound’s outdoor challenge curriculum.

Thompson Island Outward Bound served Connections students online in school year 2020-21. This school year, seventh grade Connections students will visit the Island in the fall, with other grades to follow, marking the first time the Connections program will run on Thompson Island since the pandemic began.

Thompson Island Outward Bound’s Connections model provides programming for Boston Public Schools’ middle schoolers that combines academic and hands-on learning with social and emotional learning on Thompson Island off the coast of Boston. Middle school students in the program attend Connections programs during the school year throughout middle school.

“By the end of eighth grade, Connections students consider themselves scientific thinkers in their approach to solving problems and have both the drive and ability to lead constructive change in their communities,” said Arthur Pearson, Executive Director of Thompson Island Outward Bound. “All children deserve to experience natural classrooms that help them learn, grow and develop, but there is inequity in opportunity. Taking children outside the classroom to learn and experience challenge in a natural environment is more than just a field trip. It makes learning fun and exciting, giving kids new-found insights into themselves while inspiring them to become leaders, lifelong learners and critical thinkers. We are excited to welcome Donald McKay School back to the island this fall.”

Research shows that by age 12, students growing up in underserved communities have had 6,000 fewer hours to learn outside the classroom than peers from well-resourced communities. Learning outside the classroom allows students to discover and develop problem solving skills, confidence and compassion. Experiential learning complements traditional classroom teaching and reshapes learning, serving as a gateway that inspires Boston’s middle school students to pursue new challenges and opportunities in high school.

Students who attended Connections programming in 2019 with a self-identified low interest in science showed a 37% increase in critical thinking and a 32% increase in perseverance as a result of their experiential education on the island.

Students will begin Connections programming on September 21.

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