About Donna Lasinski
While working a few years ago to address the achievement gaps between student groups in the Ann Arbor Public School district, Donna Lasinski, author and creator of the Parent Guide to Summer and the ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program, was surprised to learn that two-thirds of the income based achievement gap between a high-performing and a low-performing high school student is what they do during the summers of their elementary school years.
“It startled me to realize that we were leaving all this learning on the table,” Lasinski said. “We shouldn’t just end the school year and walk away, leaving students and families to fend for themselves all summer.”
Donna Lasinski developed the Parent Guide to Summer and the ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program to link school and home over the summer, taking the burden off both the teacher and the parent.
Pulling together teachers, materials, national academic standards, parents and students, Lasinski tackled the key obstacles to summer learning. First, teachers were strapped for time to put together summer review packets. Second, parents felt isolated over the summer with no direction from the schools. And third, students were frustrated by the large, overwhelming review books some parents bought.
Schools were thrilled with the content and academic quality of the review materials. Parents felt supported by the Parent Guide to Summer. Students loved the Professor and his Brain and the fun graphic adventure in each book. And the medals in the fall were appreciated by parents, students and teachers!
Since its initial pilot in the summer of 2009, the ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program was a finalist for the Excellence in Summer Learning award through the National Association for Summer Learning. In addition, it has won an Excellence in Education Innovation honor from an education foundation.
A longtime volunteer, Lasinski has served as either a PTO president or treasurer for the last six years, and holds an MBA from Northwestern University and a BBA from the University of Michigan. She currently chairs the Ann Arbor PTO Council and advocates for the needs of young children as an appointee of the governor in the state of Michigan.