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Montgomery County Schools’ MERIT Program Helps Students Succeed

Montgomery County Schools’ MERIT Program Helps Students Succeed

The free after-school and summer program offers academic and social benefits for elementary school students


At Montgomery County Schools, our mission is to help students succeed in a global society. We give them the necessary educational, recreational, cultural and community experiences they need to tackle the challenges they’ll face in the world. As educators of children from a variety of backgrounds and needs, we understand that sometimes it takes more than a 7-hour school day to meet those goals.

That’s why, starting with our elementary-level students, we proudly offer after-school and summer programs that expand the opportunity for students to take part in enriching programs outside of those offered during the regular school day.

Project Montgomery Excels in Rigorous Instruction Today – also known as MERIT–is a free program offered both during the school year and over the summer to all elementary school students across Montgomery County.

MERIT is a 21st Century Community Learning Center program designed to help students achieve 4 specific goals:

1) improve literacy, reading and mathematics scores

2) improve proficiency on state assessments

3) increase homework completion and class participation

4) increase student engagement with hands-on science and technology

Licensed teachers and tutors work hand-in-hand with students to achieve the program’s vision of increasing literacy by 5% to 7% each year. This is accomplished through evidence-based means in a structured after-school setting for the district’s most under-served students.

Vance Thomas, the MCS Learning Division’s Director of Early Childhood Programs, says that while a major component of this platform is to give students additional, one-on-one academic support, it’s also designed to provide hands-on opportunities for participants to explore and develop skills and interests outside of the normal school day.   

“The goal of the MERIT program is bigger than just increasing academic achievement in our students. We want to help them become well-rounded individuals through focusing on improving school and community connectedness, physical activity and social/life skills,” Thomas said. “We are fortunate enough to have a tremendous and generous team of teachers, volunteers and community partners who help show our kids that learning can be fun and that success isn’t only measured by an increase in EOG scores.”

During the school year, MERIT runs Monday through Thursday from dismissal until 5:45 p.m., with the 2018 kickoff program beginning in October. In addition to supplementary support and homework help in all major subjects, the program also features relaxed activities such as recess and social time.

The summer MERIT program is also offered four days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and normally begins one week after the school year is over. Summer MERIT retains a heavy focus on the academic needs of each student by providing remedial services along with various social activities and field trip opportunities. Snacks and transportation home at the end of the day are provided at no cost.

Lisa Wood, a 4th grade teacher at Candor Elementary School, has worked with students in the MERIT program for four years. She believes it has been crucial in building positive relationships between the school system and its students and families.

“I think this program really epitomizes Montgomery County School’s dedication to the success and well-being of our students,” Wood said. “We want to do whatever we can to help set them up for success. I think we are showing that dedication through programs like MERIT, and I think our students and parents see and appreciate that.”

 As the mother of a 3rd and 4th grader in MCS who have participated in both the after-school and summer sessions, Crystal Douglas has seen the benefits this program provides firsthand.

“MERIT helped both of my daughters so much,” Douglas said. “The small group setting gave them the additional, individualized help they needed all while making it engaging and fun. My husband and I also appreciate it because we know they are being cared for in a safe environment. We are very grateful.”

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the 2018-2019 MERIT program, please see your school's coordinator for an application. A designated “School Improvement Team” will meet to select qualified applicants, and parents will be notified as soon as possible. Each site can accommodate up to 55 students; if there are no slots available at your child’s school, he or she will be put on the waiting list until a slot is available.

We are excited to offer this opportunity to our students and look forward to another successful year!