ROCK HALL — Learning does not have to end over the summer for local students with the traditional last day of school in June.
Kent County Public Schools has expanded its summer offerings this year to help bridge learning gaps and mitigate the challenges of a year in which students spent much of the time participating in classes from home.
Gina Jachimowicz, KCPS director of teaching and learning, presented this summer’s expanded slate of programming to the Board of Education at its meeting May 10. She credited teachers, administrators and KCPS families with helping develop the programs.
“As you know, we feel very strongly about addressing the pre-grade learning gaps that have been part of the struggle that we have all faced together,” Jachimowicz said. “It has really been a test in terms of resilience on the part of both the students and the staff as well.”
The programs being offered this year are open to 3-year-olds through high schoolers, all in addition to what is commonly thought of as “summer school” for select students requiring additional classroom enrichment.
“It is truly a multi-year approach to really, really look at what we can do to infuse summer learning and address both the academic as well as the social, emotional learning needs of our students,” Jachimowicz said. “We want our summer programs to really respond to the whole child.”
She said this year’s summer programs go beyond the annual enrichment program for identified students that runs 16 days in July. She said this year’s summer schedule runs from the end of the school year to the start of the next.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say our teachers have signed up and they will be teaching every single program. So I think that’s a pretty powerful thing,” she told board members.
Starting with the youngest students, KCPS is offering play groups for 3-year-olds at off-site locations throughout the county.
Jachimowicz said the program will take a community-based approach under the direction of Supervisor of Special Education Wendy Keen, Literacy Coach Michelle Cerino and Judy Center Coordinator Florence Terrill.
“We will be bringing staff out into the community and parents will have an opportunity to sign up and participate in these very interactive, engaging, hand-on activities for 3-year-olds,” Jachimowicz said.
A Cub Club will be offered exclusively for H.H. Garnet Elementary School students entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade Mondays through Thursdays Aug. 2-19.
All KCPS elementary school students entering kindergarten through fifth grade can sign up for an Acceleration Academy. Also offered Mondays through Thursdays Aug. 2-19, this program will be held at Galena and Rock Hall elementary schools with off-site exploration provided by the Sultana Education Foundation, Echo Hill Outdoor School and the Sassafras Environmental Education Center.
An Acceleration Academy at Kent County Middle School will focus on applied literacy and math while providing an opportunity to earn up to 36 service learning hours. The program will be open to students entering sixth and seventh grade and run Mondays through Thursdays Aug. 2-19.
“It was a very intentional design and part of our transition, so those that are new to the middle school will really have a chance to get their feet in the door prior to the school year and get to know not only the staff, but get to feel that sense of community as a team as well,” Jachimowicz said.
Kent County High School’s Acceleration Academy, scheduled for Mondays through Thursdays July 6-29, will be invitation only to students needing to recover credits.
In addition, the high school will offer students an opportunity to explore its Career and Technology Education Program. The program will be open to those entering ninth and 10th grades. It runs Mondays through Thursdays, with students signing up to attend four days either the week of June 21 or June 28.
Jachimowicz said this is the first year for the CTE Exploration program. She said students will be able to explore the various pathways in the CTE program, from agricultural sciences and broadcasting to culinary arts and nursing.
“It’s a great way for those that perhaps are new to the high school to see all that our small high school has to offer,” Jachimowicz said.
Jachimowicz said a big part of the mission this summer is to increase the amount students are reading. She said with school buildings being open this summer for the programs, students will have access to media and books. The school system also received grant money to purchase books that can be sent home with students.
There also will be virtual book studies and clubs hosted by teachers, Jachimowicz said.
“These programs all sound amazing,” said board member Francoise Sullivan, parent of an elementary student and a middle schooler, adding that she is happy to see project-based offerings and the partnerships with community organizations.