A private school in Hillsborough County has opened its doors this summer for low-income families.

  • Private Tampa school offers free summer classes for low-income students
  • Summer program to help students stay ahead through summer
  • BAY NEWS 9+ APPS UPGRADED: The new releases have a block-style layout that makes it easier to navigate, as well as an added section for Attractions Insider. A new weather section includes hour-by-hour forecasts and marine buoy data. Update your app today!

It’s part of an effort to curb the brain drain in students over the summer months.

While most kids are taking a break from school this summer, Dayton Pernas, 13, is headed to class.

This eighth grader is one of about 80 public school students chosen to take part in a free summer learning program at the Private Berkeley Preparatory School.

“The education that they give you, it prepares you for another level,” student Michelle Fernandez said.

“When I applied, I was really excited because I already saw in my head that my future was going to get better,” student Josh Chabran said.

All the summer students come from low income households – and all of them are eager to excel.

“We want every scholar to reach their unique potential. The kids in our program have expressed their desire to go to college and our goal is to help them achieve that,” Kim Lawless, Director at Berkeley Academy, said.

Research shows children get behind academically over the summer months and for low-income students it’s even worse.

The summer slide can put them up to three years behind their peers.

However, the students at Berkeley Academy have been making academic gains, and not just with the robots.

“I think the biggest challenge was like learning new things because as I came to the Berkeley Academy there was many things I didn’t know, but eventually I learned it and I mastered it and now I’m just flying through,” Chabran said.

Berkeley mentors steer the students on the right path over the summer, then continue to provide guidance all year long—hoping to give them the edge they need to go to college and succeed.

The Berkeley Academy summer program is for 7th and 8th graders in Hillsborough County.

This is the second year for the program.