The Learning Curve: summer school plans at Wawasee Community Schools
SYRACUSE, Ind.-- Summer break is almost here, but what happens if you child needs a little more schooling before the fall?
Wawasee Community Schools are trying to set the example by enticing students to see summer school as an opportunity versus a punishment.
“One of the things that has come out of the pandemic has been a real need for extra remediation and intervention. Through not just summer school, but all kinds of programming,” said Wawasee Community Schools superintendent, Dr. Steve Troyer.
Wawasee Schools are making lemonade with learning loss lemons as remediation is the districts main focus.
“Our summer program is one of our most impactful remediation opportunities that we have,” said Dr. Troyer.
“It gives them structure to their day, and they get breakfast and lunch here and it's over by noon. So it's not really that bad. Three weeks, get a credit,” said English and summer school teacher of 18 years, Kristen Records.
For the district, summer school is an opportunity.
“15 extra days, four hours a day that we get to work with kids in small group settings, and really, hopefully make a difference,” said Dr. Troyer.
A difference Records says starts with teaching differently.
“It's not really a one size fits all type of class,” said Records.
Teachers will be at about a 1 to 5 student ratio focusing on the core classes of math, English, science, and social studies in-person with more specified classes, like economics, available online.
Changes making education individualized in smaller groups to cover not only the educational gaps.
“[But] We’re also looking at providing some behavioral supports to students,” said Dr. Troyer. “We're putting some mental health therapists into our summer program we're building in some behavioral supports, with staffing that we're bringing in, we've got some extra administrators that can work one on one with our students.”
Social, emotional and educational needs that are being addressed for all levels whether you’re child’s in elementary, middle or high school.
Learning Curve reporter and morning anchor, Summer Horan, asked Dr. Troyer if enrollment numbers have surged, dipped, or changed in recent years?
“Yeah, we're we're definitely up from where we have been historically,” said Dr. Troyer. “And part of that has been this intentional push to push kids into the program, knowing that there's some of those gaps that exist.”
Gaps Records is facing with fun!
“This year, I'm piloting a defined learning program with them,” said Records. “We're going to do a forensic science investigation type of project. We're going to like look at blood spatter patterns and fingerprints. And the English part of it, they have to do research conducted report and present it so it's kind of mixing science and English.”
Educational fun funded further due to the pandemic.
“A lot of people are aware of the federal dollars that have been pumped into schools,” said Dr. Troyer.
Just shy of $3 million federal dollars to be exact, given in the ESSER III allocation.
Money that will help cover summer school costs into 2024.
Funds the state typically reimburses to a certain extent.
“It doesn't begin to cover everything that we're doing. So we're really thankful for those extra dollars. Because we can supplement, you know, 50 or 75, or $100,000, to pay staff that we just flat out wouldn't have we wouldn't be able to do if we didn't have something like that,” said Dr. Troyer.
ESSER dollars bolstering modern curriculum and teacher pay as educators are still in short supply.
“We've got a very legitimate teacher shortage, especially when you're in kind of a more rural setting like we are,” said Dr. Troyer. “We’ve had to incentivize [teachers] and mak[e] it worth their time to give up three weeks of the summer to continue to teach.”
Don’t worry though. Wawasee is staffed with educators happy to be back with students who also seem to miss the weekday 8 to 3.
“I've hardly had any discipline problems at all. I don't think I've had one student this year that's caused any trouble,” said Records. “I think they're just grateful for what they've been through. They're happy to be back in the building and maybe not taking school for granted so much.”
If summer school hasn’t yet been suggested for your child or you are hoping to learn more about your own district’s plans make sure to reach out early to see what enrollment opportunities could help your child heading into a new school year.