School summer enrichment program helps kids with critical skills
Morgan County Schools has offered a third and eighth grade summer enrichment program the past several years for students needing help with reading, writing and math skills.
The program is running at Warm Springs Middle School and Paw Paw Schools from June 18 through July 19. Energy Express operates in different wings of the schools from June 18 through July 26.
Elementary Education Director Kandy Kulus said those grades are the critical years. Schools have to assure students are at mastery level before they move on to the next grade.
If students aren’t reading and doing math at grade level by the end of third grade, they’re at risk of failure, Kulus said. In eighth grade, they can become dropouts if they’re not successful in reading, math and writing.
Students who have received academic assistance through the summer enrichment program have shown great improvement in school, she said.
State Policy 2512 requires that schools provide tutoring to kids who are at risk of not having the needed critical academic skills to advance from the third and eighth grades.
In Morgan County, Kulus said that 89 second and third graders who were having difficulties in school were invited to take part in the program this summer. Some 24 students are participating, 19 at the middle school and five in Paw Paw. Other children enrolled in the Energy Express program.
Energy Express has college mentors working with small groups of children on reading, writing and other activities. It has a broader, more general focus and is a wonderful program, she said.
The summer enrichment program has certified teachers who work with children in small groups on specific skill deficiencies in reading, writing and math.
“It’s more intense, prescriptive,” Kulus said.
Teacher referrals are based on students’ grades, participation and academic performance. If kids are struggling with schoolwork, the summer enrichment program is recommended.
Energy Express and the summer enrichment program share busing. Free meals are provided for students in both programs.
Kulus just met with second and third grade teachers. They told her that students in the summer enrichment program were making great progress and had greatly improved their reading, writing and math skills. Teachers did ongoing student assessments.
“They’ll start out next year with stronger skills,” Kulus said of participants.
Other grades added
The program began as a State Department of Education policy mandate for third and eighth graders, but some sixth and seventh grade students were added as space allowed on a trial basis this year, said Secondary Education Director Laura Hovermale.
Hovermale said she sent out around 70 letters inviting teens to participate in the summer enrichment program. There were 34 students at the Warm Springs Middle School site and seven at the Paw Paw site.
They targeted students that had low academic performance as shown by semester and final grades, benchmark testing and other assessments, Hovermale said. Teachers also recommended students.
Hovermale said she has followed the grades of students who were in the program and that their grades improved in high school. She noted that if the teens had continued at the same low performance level, they would not have been on track to graduate in four years.
Kids like it
Students like the summer program because the groups are small, it focuses on reading, writing and math and “teachers explain things better.” Hovermale attributed that to the small group setting and teachers having more time to spend on subjects with fewer distractions.
Students get breakfast and lunch and a break for some physical activity, but are zeroed in on their work, she said.
Morgan County Schools received grant funding for the program’s first two years. Step 7 monies funded this summer’s program.