Empowering Young Learners

Empowering Young Learners

GovsPLUS (Powerful Learners Unlocking Success), a tuition-free academic and cultural summer program for middle school students from Lawrence, Massachusetts, has proven transformational for young scholars, who often go on to attend Govs and other selective independent schools before heading to colleges and universities like Harvard University, Tufts University, and Northwestern University.

“For many students, GovsPLUS was a springboard to amazing oppor­tunities for them and their families—a summer enrichment program like few others in its ability to unlock so much potential at exactly the right time in these young lives,” says GovsPLUS Co-Founder Spencer Purinton ’75, P’13,’14,’20, who is also a Govs Board member.

Program Director Michelle de la Guardia agrees. “GovsPLUS plants the seed of curiosity, confidence, and motivation,” says de la Guardia, who is the Language Department Chair, a Spanish teacher, an advisor, and a dorm parent at Govs. “Our scholars grow in body, mind, and spirit as we provide the support that they need to become their best selves.”

Each year, there are more than 35 participants in GovsPLUS, which was created in 2013 to help middle school students in Lawrence Public Schools reach their potential inside and outside the classroom. The program begins with a five-week summer experience and continues throughout the school year with monthly opportunities to connect.

On a typical day, GovsPLUS students attend three periods of morning classes to develop skills such as math, reading, writing, and critical thinking. Later, they may try their hand at public speaking or salsa dancing in the Peter Marshall French Student Center. Some days are spent on field trips to museums or college campuses like Harvard and MIT.

“This kind of experiential learning is enriching for seventh and eighth graders who may otherwise be in an urban environment during the summer,” Lisa Budd Purinton P’13,’14,’20 says. “It has the potential to help them be more comfortable in new situations as they go out into the world.”

When the program was first proposed, Spencer and Lisa immediately agreed to help fund and develop it. Spencer says those involved early in GovsPLUS “rolled up their sleeves” to work with Lawrence Public Schools, which faces unique challenges as a district with more than 90 percent of its students coming from low-income families. More than 90 percent of the district’s students are Hispanic and 30 percent are English language learners.

“As a Latina myself, I really love working with a mostly Latine community that is full of talented, resilient students who are thirsty for knowledge,” says de la Guardia, who hails from Puerto Rico and is among 30 Govs faculty and staff members and ten students who volunteer for the program. “The goal of GovsPLUS is for our students to reach their full potential, both academically and personally.”

As one graduate shared: “I am forever grateful, and GovsPLUS will always be a part of me—reminding me I can achieve anything.”

GovsPLUS is funded each year by a community of Governor’s donors, as well as public and private foun­dations. The Budd-Purinton family provides leadership support for the program through their investment in the With True Courage campaign, helping to secure the program’s mission. Their support extends beyond the program to the establishment of scholarships for GovsPLUS students who enroll at Governor’s. If you are interested in learning more about supporting GovsPLUS, please reach out to the Office of Advancement.