Thanks to the efforts of some extraordinary people within our district, our summer school program has a totally different look this year. Lindsey Schubert, Associate Principal at OMS, and Toddy Antony, Principal at Irving Pertsch, have taken on this gigantic task of making summer school cool.
Yes, I said cool.
In years past, the notion of summer school elicited thoughts of failure, punishment, and extended torture. Kids who were coming to summer school were directed to go there, not invited. They were told that they had to attend or suffer the consequences of remediation during the school year, uncompleted credits, or being "held back."
Summer school was not cool.
No one wanted to attend school in the summer.
"That's my time off."
"That's when I get my break!"
"I'm too stressed out after the regular school year! I'm 10 and I can't handle it!!!!!"
There was a terribly negative connotation with summer school. We needed to change it.
We needed to adopt a new attitude and direction with summer school.
First, everyone could come.
No longer was summer school reserved for students who may be struggling. Everyone was invited to benefit from this program. Whether students were reading at grade level, below grade level, or above grade level, we had something for them.
Second, academics in the morning = fun in the afternoon.
We created dozens of new enrichment classes that included everything from basket weaving (class filled in one day!) to robotics. Drama class to rocketry. Technology integration into your life to basketball. You name it, we had it!
Students could attend for however long they wished. They could come for the academics and leave before the afternoon sessions. They could just come for the enrichment. They could also stay all day.
I can hear the questions now:
"Why re-do summer school?"
"Research shows that summer school has little to no effect on student learning and achievement!"
But what message are we sending by allowing students to take three months off of learning? What passive statement are we making about "life long learning" when we allow kids to not be engaged during the summer months?
I know what you're thinking. Your thinking, "Lots of parents sign their children up for programming during the summer that keeps kids sharp, allows them to be involved, and keeps them busy."
Yes they do. But not all families have an inexspeive, readily accessible programs that will help their child stay on track.
That's our job. It's our job to provide these types of programs and it's our job to ensure that all students are learning. Summer school can be a tool that helps us teach kids that learning occurs....always. Even in summer.
Hopefully their also learning that school is cool.....at least in the summer!