By Mark Ciemcioch
The term “summer school” brings up thoughts of low-performing students being forced to attend school during the hottest season of the year in order to keep up, but the Cleveland Hill School District found success recently by offering students an alternative.
After a layoff of several years, the district brought back its Summer Success program, which encourages students, even high-achieving ones, to enroll in a variety of short-term classes to improve their education. Administrators told the Board of Education about their progress during the board’s meeting Wednesday night. Summer Success is optional.
If that wasn’t enough, the program ditches the standard algebra and world history courses for enrichment classes like animal classification, the history of Cleveland Hill, dinosaur zoo, daily labs and Kidblog. Summer Success also offers several skill-building courses such as guided reading instruction and a writer’s workshop.
The courses ran four days a week for three weeks. Teachers met prior to the beginning of each session to co-plan the classes. The program’s goal was to reinforce the district’s school-year Project ACHIEVE initiative, remediate and retain children’s skills and reinforce STEM fields. Because none of the courses offered official credit or tests, parents received a progress report at the end of the session that detailed their child’s effort.
Summer Success was a hit, with about 190 students enrolled. A recent report told the district that of the more than 100 parents surveyed about the program, all of them want their children to go back next year.
“People would be high-fiving me, asking what they can do to bring the program back,” said Angela Ferri, assistant principal at the elementary school. “Everyone rallied together … and we created something that knocked it out of the park. There was a ton of success in Summer Success.”
The district also offered a standard summer school program for middle- and high-schoolers this year to help students earn course credits, pass Regents exams and continue enrichment and support. Assistant Principal Patrick Christie said that in addition to 37 students receiving remedial help, 24 children enjoyed enrichment experiences similar to Summer Success.
“We had such a big response to the enrichment courses,” he said. The students “chose to be there.”
“There was this perception that summer school was a punishment,” said board vice president Thomas Kulaszewski. “The whole enrichment piece is that kids want to be there. To me, that’s a huge success.”