Creating and launching an enriching summer program is everything it’s cracked up to be: Exciting, fulfilling and essential to closing the achievement gap. This summer, Aim High will stay true to these expectations when we open a second Marin County campus in Novato.

More than 80 students and 20 teachersall new to Aim Highwill comprise the inaugural summer program at San Jose Middle School in Novato.  

Aim High is exactly what our community has been craving for years, and I am thrilled to be part of the founding team.Deborah Baraban

Leading the campus are co-site directors Deborah Baraban and Ben Leech (pictured above) who bring more than 30 years of experience to the role. Ben teaches science and Deborah teaches history and English at San Jose Middle School during the year. They are eager to see the legendary Aim High ‘magic’ in action. “Aim High is exactly what our community has been craving for years, and I am thrilled to be part of the founding team,” Deborah says.

Aim High Novato has been years in the making. Limited options for summer enrichment is an ongoing challenge in Marin County, and finding solutions has been a priority for civic leaders. Aim High launched its first campus in Marin County in 2010 at Marin Academy in San Rafael. Over the last 10 years, the campus has grown and flourished Donors and civic leaders were optimistic that Aim High’s success could be replicated 11 miles north in Novato.

I am hopeful that Aim High will lead to students feeling like they can be successful in school.Ben Leech

Aim High originally connected to Novato through the leadership and initiative of Marin Promise. The push for Aim High Novato became a promising reality in 2018 when leaders from Novato Unified School District visited Aim High’s San Rafael campus. After observing the wonders that project-based learning and team-teaching engender in the Aim High classroom, NUSD committed to partnering with Aim High to launch a summer campus in their community.Add the generous support of the Gruber Family Foundation, Peter Haas, Jr. Fund, Marin Community Foundation, Rosenberger Family Fund and anonymous donors, Aim High Novato is poised for success (The new campus now holds a record for receiving the most student applications ever for a new site).

Aim High Novato officially launched with students on June 24. Over the course of summer, they will have the opportunity to make new friends, try exciting and engaging activities, and prepare for the school year ahead.  “Every fall, some students tell how ‘boring’ summer was and that they ‘watched YouTube videos’ or ‘had to go to their parent’s work,”” says Deborah. “Having Aim High in Novato is going to radically transform students’ relationship with summer.”

“I am hopeful that Aim High will lead to students feeling like they can be successful in school,” says Ben. “I want to see how three or four summers of Aim High impact student engagement and achievement.”

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