JumpStart Supports New Poly Students

JumpStart is a transitional program that provides a cultural welcome, community network, and leadership development for Middle School and Upper School students new to Poly from non-independent schools. It elevates the cultural wealth inherent in students and allows them to feel valued and add value to the Poly community. JumpStart is an exceptional experience for students to develop connections prior to the start of school and to be part of a special cohort that continually enriches one another. 

JumpStart provides students with practice and confidence to build relationships with faculty, peers, and Poly families alike, and succeed through a permission-giving structure and open environment. The program is based on research-based studies about belonging in educational environments and decades-long insight with the foundational belief that every student needs anchoring adult mentors that they trust. 

“Students who are new to Poly, often from non-independent schools, are some of the brightest students we have. For the first couple of years, I started to rethink the purpose of JumpStart, that it should really be a program that celebrates the strengths that these students bring into our community.” 
—Dr. Nathan Stogdill, Director of JumpStart, from the PolyNews Article “JumpStart Emphasizes New Students' Cultural Wealth

JumpStart Summer Programming

Newly enrolled sixth and ninth-grade students from non-independent schools are invited to participate in JumpStart. Each program in Middle School and Upper School focuses on relationship building within the cohort and across cohorts. JumpStart Leadership Fellows mentor students through social networking and sharing institutional knowledge.

JumpStart Upper School

Dr. Nathan Stogdill, Director of JumpStart and Ninth Grade Dean, and Dr. Michaela Mares-Tamayo, Director of DEI, guided the summer session. A cohort of JumpStart Leadership Fellows--rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores who participated in JumpStart--also support students as mentors, peers, and new friends. The group creates community while developing foundational knowledge about the social, cultural, and academic experience of ninth grade at Poly. Some of the summer activities include storytelling, science labs, collaborative projects, and off-campus experiences.  

JumpStart Middle School

Middle School faculty and Math Teacher Roberto Alvarez guides JumpStart Middle School for entering sixth-grade students. The aim is to complement the school’s existing orientation program by further recognizing the needs of students joining Poly’s learning community. JumpStart Middle School introduces students to new structures that include changing classrooms, subject-specific teaching, Outdoor Ed, and increased autonomy, as well as provides them with the language and practices to successfully navigate new opportunities and challenges. 

JumpStart School Year Programming  

JumpStart doesn’t conclude with the end of summer, it extends throughout the student’s time in Poly’s Upper School. The group stays together and meets regularly during lunch to foster connection across grade levels. These meetings are focused on sharing experiences, landmark learning moments, and significant events that happen during the school year.  

JumpStart Leadership Fellows

The JumpStart Leadership Fellows Program provides opportunities for students to matter and add value to the school by creating community and belonging for incoming students. Poly directly credits increased rates of participation in leadership roles at Poly due to experiences as a JumpStart fellow. Dr. Stogdill reminds the leadership fellows that, “You all have the wisdom and experience that we need. No one in school has what you have. And these incoming 9th graders need that and you’re thriving now and they need to know how that happened.”
“Jumpstart has been a meaningful experience for me because I've been able to create a community with other students with similar experiences and backgrounds. From feeling isolated and scared, JumpStart has created a space for me to feel proud of my background and my potential. From being a student to a fellow and now the program coordinator, I've had the opportunity to watch the JumpStart program grow as I've grown with it. Every time I see a JumpStart student, I'm excited to wave and talk to them.”

—Klaryssa C. ’24, Leadership Fellow and JumpStart Participant

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Nathan Stogdill

    Nathan Stogdill 

    Upper School English; Grade Level Dean, Director, JumpStart, City of Angels

For more information about JumpStart, please contact:

Dr. Nathan Stogdill