Coordinated Services

GPA offers extended learning to allow more time for academics and a full range of extra-curricular activities to help students grow as scholars and individuals. 

At GPA, we strongly believe that the traditional school day does not afford students adequate time for learning and enrichment. GPA offers extended learning to allow more time for academics and a full range of extra-curricular activities to help students grow as scholars and individuals. In the evenings, the school hosts free adult education classes for GPA parents and members of the community to learn English.

GPA provides outstanding education and support to students from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every weekday, with regular school hours between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and additional programming during the summer.

Note how these extended hours add up to more learning and enrichment time over the course of one school year:

Before School

Monday – Friday, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

GPA’s before-school program is a free, drop-in program for students in all grades. The program includes breakfast and academic activities such as reading groups, math games, and literacy support. Graduate interns work with students to reinforce key learning concepts taught during the day in small group or one-to-one settings.

GPA/YMCA After-School
The GPA/YMCA After-School Program is a fully inclusive program that serves as an extension of the traditional school day while sharing the same philosophy and commitment to excellence. Offered in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Boston, the program focuses on academic enrichment that incorporates academic instruction alongside enrichment activities aimed at closing the opportunity gap for 110 GPA students in K-0 through 8th grade. The GPA/YMCA after school program has been named an exemplary 21st Century after school program with Demonstration status by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Demonstration status is the highest status held by very few schools across the state of Massachusetts, only 2 of which are Boston Public schools. Beyond this, GPA was identified by the Center for American Progress as a model full-service school. In 2012, a report was released about the current student support and partnerships in place across the city of Boston. GPA was the only school in the report that was highlighted as having all ten of the student supports in place.

Hours after official dismissal, the Gardner Pilot Academy is still buzzing with activity. Every weekday until 6pm, nearly 150 students attend GPA’s After-School Program. During this extended learning time, students have more time to practice academic skills, and try a range of extra-curricular activities. After-School is an essential component of Gardner Pilot Academy’s full service community schools model.

Learning that happens outside of the school day drives students’ development and contributes to their academic achievement. Extra-curricular activities build key noncognitive skills, like teamwork, grit, and leadership, which contribute to academic and life success. Unequal access to quality out of school time learning accounts for the bulk learning and opportunity gaps between children in affluent and low-income communities. Children spend 80 percent of their waking hours outside of school, and over the past 40 years affluent parents have increased their spending on kids’ enrichment activities tenfold compared to parents in low-income communities. Today three in four students in the highest income quartiles are engaged in extra-curricular activities, while just roughly half of students in the lowest income quartile are.

This GPA has developed a quality extended learning program over the past twenty years. Students at all grade levels can enroll in After-School, and school-day paraprofessionals serve as the lead teachers during After-School. When students arrive, they attend a community meeting with their After-School classmates and teacher. Over the course of the afternoon, students work on homework, do activities building on lessons during the school day, and take a social studies class, with breaks for snack and additional play time. Based on their grade level, students also participate in their choice of clubs. Recent examples of club offerings include music lessons, science, Playworks’ Junior Coaching, and gender-based affinity groups. Students who participate in After-School experience 1,710 hours of additional learning time each year.

A range of partnerships makes After-School at GPA possible. The YMCA of Greater Boston is the most substantial After-School partner. The YMCA helps GPA get state licensure, and supports staff salaries and professional learning costs. Local organizations, like Boston College, the Big Sisters Association, and Strong Women Strong Girls run clubs and other specific programs during After-School. To support the program, families pay a weekly fee on a sliding scale. GPA also provides scholarships to families in need.

Jennifer Barrios is the person who makes all of this possible. This is Jennifer’s third year serving as GPA’s After-School Site Director, and she has been a member of the GPA community since 2000. Prior to assuming her current role, Jennifer managed the school’s front office and served as a volunteer.

Jennifer oversees the different parts of After-School. She ensures the program is compliant with requirements from the YMCA, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), state and federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program guidelines. She also manages relationships with partners and meets with their organizations throughout the year to ensure they are working towards mutual goals. Jennifer works with teachers and administrators to aligns After-School activities with the traditional school-day, and she supports After-School lead teachers and instructors.

Jennifer is instrumental in making After-School successful, and here is what members of the GPA community have to say about her:

“She [is] very supporting. She’s always here to help us brainstorm ideas about what we can do to help the students and the staff.”
-Ms. B

“She does all she can to make sure the program is running smoothly.”
-Ms. Rushin

“She’s always looking at the glass half full”
-Ms. Sarah

“Any time anyone gets hurt she’s always prepared and she never lets anyone down”
-Martin (3rd Grade student)

“She’s very humble, extremely passionate about what she does, extremely caring, and an amazing human being.”

“She’s genuinely supportive. If something is wrong with me, she’ll drop everything.”
-Ms. Shenice

“When we face adversity, she’s good at keeping everyone, not only herself, calm.”
-Mr. Alex

Summer Programs

Gardner Pilot Academy Summer Academy

In partnership with the YMCA of Greater Boston

Innovation and Excellence

The goal of the Summer Academy at Gardner Pilot Academy is to deliver programming, in partnership with the community, that develops social and emotional connections through relationships and empowers students to be contributors to their own learning and to the greater community. Research shows that a lack of learning opportunities outside of school – and in particular, a lack of summer learning opportunities – causes up to 2/3 of the academic achievement gap between children from low-income communities and their higher-income peers.  Hosting the Summer Academy enables GPA to narrow the opportunity gap between the students of our community and students of more privileged backgrounds.

Student Demographics:  Over 150 families at the Gardner Pilot Academy and surrounding schools rely on the Summer Program as a strategy to close academic and opportunity gaps as well as to provide high quality care for their children during the critical summer months.  In partnership with the YMCA Gardner Pilot Academy has offered high quality summer learning since 1999. The Summer Academy aims to ensure that we reach our diverse student population to mirror the demographics of the school.  As a full inclusion school, our out of school time programs also serve approximately 25% of students with disabilities and 70% English Language Learners.  While all students are eligible for our program, we target students for this program who are not meeting academic benchmarks, newcomers to this country and those students who are living in poverty (particularly students who are experiencing homelessness).  

Program Description:  

The Summer academy is a full-day learning experience that combines academic instruction with fun and hands-on enrichment activities, field trips, and service projects. The program is designed to help scholars gain new academic skills and prepare to enter school in the fall ready to excel.  The program starts with a healthy breakfast and community-building. Scholars then transition into classrooms, where certified teachers and trained teaching assistants lead small-group instruction in literacy and math. After lunch, scholars rotate through a series of enrichment courses and activities focused on topics such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), creative arts, and health & exercise.   Fridays in summer are focused on fun field trips that allow our scholars to explore Boston and access opportunities at local attractions. With funding from the YMCA, Boston Public Schools, grants and individual donors the summer academy at Gardner Pilot Academy is free to all families with programming provided Monday through Friday starting at 7:30 until 5:30 for five weeks.


Parent Testimonial:Being part of the YMCA summer program last year was a great experience. My children really enjoyed it by having fun while also learning. My son was really engaged with the activities and my daughter learned so much that when she started K1 in September it was a smooth transition for her. The hours of the program were very convenient as it allowed me to work my regular full time job not needing to cut my hours down due to lack of childcare. Not to mention the affordability of a free program! The program director worked very closely with me and was able to help out as much as possible.  I would recommend this program to any family and I’m sure they would have a good experience as myself. Really looking forward to this summer!” Diana Castillo, parent of a GPA student


Student testimonial: “We got to learn about places in Boston during summer program- places I never went to. I usually stay around the same area. Also, the morning where I got tutored really helped me get my reading fluent” Melissa, GPA student

City Connect

City Connects is a school-based intervention that connects each student to the tailored set of prevention, intervention, and enrichment services s/he needs to thrive, and it has been a part of GPA since its inception. City Connects leverages the rich services and resources of the city’s community agencies and was developed through a partnership of community agencies, Boston College, and schools. In addition to coordinating referral services for students, families, partners, and the school, the coordinator also runs several group sessions designed to address relevant issues arising throughout the school year such as: bullying, friendship, organization, health and human sexuality, gender roles, leadership, mentoring, etc. She will help refer students to specific mental health providers when appropriate, based on insurance coverage, parental consent and student need.

Adult Education

In the evenings, parents and adults from the community participate in ESL, computer education, parenting workshops including citizenship and housing, legal workshops, and school meetings. Our Adult Education Coordinator, Michelle Duval, oversees four levels of ESL instruction. In addition to the daily classroom programming, GPA offers an array of services to children and families during out of school hours.  These services are available to all students that attend the Gardner School at no cost or at minimal fees. All fees are adjustable based upon family income and situation. Please contact Michelle Duval for more information


English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The Gardner Pilot Academy‘s ESOL program advocates learning through investigation while building skills for independence and life-long learning.


The program challenges students to set and meet personal education goals. It is designed to develop students’ oral communication, as well as reading and writing skills. We also explore the experience and knowledge that every student brings to the program as English language skills are taught using themes and content related to the interests, needs, and experience of the learners, including their educational, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.

GPA’s ESOL program consists of six levels of classes:

Survival Literacy, Basic Beginner, Beginner, Low Intermediate, High Intermediate/Advanced.

Classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

All classes are free of charge and child care is available.

For more information and to enroll in our Adult Education Program please visit

To read more about some of our current students, click the links below.

Portraits of Success – Deni Barrios

The Faces of Adult Learners

Donate to Gardner Pilot Academy

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Gardner Pilot Academy
30 Athol Street
Allston, MA 02134