While school is out for the summer, St. Mark’s campus has remained alive with activity. For three weeks in June, the Brendan Court ‘06 Summer Enrichment Program hosted middle school boys from across the Dallas ISD for lessons in literature, math, ceramics and robotics, among other subjects. Leading these classes is a group of St. Mark’s student volunteers who are looking for experience in education.
Rising senior and student-teacher Jordan Feldman joined the program as an extension of work he was already enjoying.
“A lot of what I do at my youth group is influence younger people and inspire them to become leaders, both within their communities and their religion,” Feldman said. “I saw the Brendan Court Program as an opportunity to get involved in my own community, and it’s been very fulfilling.”
The program, which has been active in the summer since 2006, has undergone changes in recent years. Robotics has a greater presence in the curriculum thanks to rising senior and Brendan Court student director Vivek Patel ’24, who demonstrated in the St. Mark’s Robotics Team’s championship-winning machine. Ceramics is a new addition this year, alongside a trip to Kimball Art Museum’s exhibit “Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art”.
“Many of the boys hadn’t been introduced to something so ancient in human history,” said Dr. Katherine Anson, Brendan Court Program co-director and St. Mark’s Spanish instructor. “Also, many of our students come from Central American families — they’re first-generation Americans, so it’s great that they get to explore their background.”
The most significant change to the program in recent years is a collaboration with Uplift Education, a network of public charter schools in Dallas. Most students come from Uplift schools this year, which has created a more cohesive body of students familiar with one educational culture.
Also new this year is an official teacher recruitment committee — St. Mark’s students must submit an application, interview and acquire letters of recommendation from their teachers. Those who aren’t accepted to teach are still welcome to volunteer in other areas of the program. Other new committees include social media and meal coordination — two students ensure that all 39 program members get fed.
“It’s amazing — Brendan Court is like a final assembly during the school year where the students run everything,” said Jorge Correa, program co-director and St. Mark’s director of Community Service. “We sit back and take a few pictures, but at the end of the day, they’re in charge.”
The program honors the memory of Brendan Court, a beloved member of St. Mark’s Class of 2006.