Rhonda Willingham helps Sharlena Hoffman, 15, who is going to be a sophomore in the fall, with a math assignment Tuesday at Moffat County High School. Hoffman is one of about 15 students taking a summer math class to get a head start on the next school year.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Rhonda Willingham helps Sharlena Hoffman, 15, who is going to be a sophomore in the fall, with a math assignment Tuesday at Moffat County High School. Hoffman is one of about 15 students taking a summer math class to get a head start on the next school year.

Moffat County Summer school math and reading programs offer credit, a head start

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Sherie Lewis, 15, who is going to be a freshman in the fall, works on math assignment on a computer Tuesday at Moffat County High School. The computer program, called Catchup Math, is new to the district’s curriculum and is designed help accelerate students’ understanding of subjects and allow them to work at their own pace.

About 30 Moffat County School District students gathered Tuesday to spend the morning at the last place they wanted to be during summer vacation: school.

For some, their parents pushed them to attend the 18-day summer school program at Moffat County High School, in which high school and Craig Middle School students get extra help during vacation.

Others were recommended by their teachers to receive extra help and support in areas in which they struggle.

Whatever the reason, the second-floor computer lab was cool and quiet Tuesday as about 15 students worked on independent math problems.

Next door, the reading class was abuzz with story telling and peer editing.

Teacher and program coordinator Rhonda Willingham said though few of the children came of their own free will, there are rewards to focusing on summer school.

“These are kids who need an extra boost,” she said. “Sometimes they missed too much school or got poor grades. They can do this for credit, though. They pay for it but if they have perfect attendance, they get it back.”

Jacob Scroggs, who will be a junior in the fall, had some credit confusion that landed him in summer school.

His family moved to Montana in the middle of the school year, then moved back to Moffat County just months later.

By finishing the program, which lasts a little more than three weeks, Jacob can receive full credit for the class he missed while away, and get a head start for next year.

“If I do this, it goes toward my next class in the fall,” he said.

In the math room, the students worked on a computer program called Catchup Math, a learning program, new to the district’s curriculum, which independently tracks and assesses their process.

“Math is hard,” Willingham said. “They’re on so many different levels, it’s hard for me to just stand there and lecture them.

“Summer school, it’s hard for the kids but it’s really good to catch up and get ahead if they can. I’m not one who wants to go to year round (school), but they lose a lot over the summer, and this is just a boost.”

She said summer school us a good opportunity because there are fewer distractions and concurrent obligations.

There is also a program for elementary school-age students.

In the room next door to Willingham’s, the summer reading lab class was finishing up writing journal entries about their day.

Teacher Katy Gray, who retired from her full-time teaching position at the end of the 2009-10 school year, said the reading program incorporated a professional development program for teachers.

“Before we started (summer school), the teachers had training sessions of two hours each where they learned about reading strategies that work and building lesson plans around their subject,” Gray said.

Science teacher Heather Sweet and band director John Bolton were part of the program Tuesday and will work on designing multidisciplinary lessons geared toward literacy.

But, the reading lab was just as much for students as it was for teachers.

“We’re trying to get them to improve vocabulary, comprehension and reading speed,” Gray said. “Just so they’re revved up for next year.”

Abby Landa, who will be a sophomore in the fall, said the program involves “a lot of reading,” she said.

“It depends on the story,” she said about her enthusiasm for reading. “I’m not going to be into a really boring story.”

She said the program’s upcoming field trips and hands-on activities might be a fun way to learn this summer.

For Dwane Wiseman, a soon-to-be seventh-grader, summer school was more than an opportunity to hang out with his best friends.

“You get to learn how to read better and fast and you learn to focus,” he said.

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