Intensive summer school offered |

Intensive summer school offered

Christina M. Currie

Twenty-seven youths are getting a jump on the school year this week through a concentrated program provided so students don’t backtrack over the summer.

The two-week program is for students in preschool through sixth grade who have special educational needs and who have been identified as those who will regress during the summer.

“This is not open to everyone,” Program Director Sarah Hepworth said. “The IEP (Individual Education Plan) team decides whether the child is eligible.”

Federal law requires school districts to offer the summer service for those students and it’s been done in a variety of ways, including weekly classes, one-on-one learning and group learning.

“We’ve tried it a lot of different ways, and this seems to be the best format,” Hepworth said. “It’s more concentrated and repetitious.”

This is the fifth year the services have been offered in this intensive format, though the curriculum changes year to year.

“It changes by the group of kids and their needs, as well as the staff available,” Hepworth said. “They all just learn differently, so we have to figure out different ways to teach them.”

The half-day classes started July 18 and will run through Friday. They are as much a learning experience for the teachers as they are the students, Hepworth said.

“It gives staff the chance to get to know that new child and his or her individual needs,” she said.

In addition to summer school, many of these students have received individualized lessons at other times.

“This is just a piece of how we offer summer services,” Hepworth said. “It’s the biggest piece, but it’s not all of it.

“Our goal is to inhibit regression and we do see an impact in that, and the teachers report they see difference.”

On hand for the classes are the school district’s speech and occupational therapist, two special education teachers and several special education paraprofessionals. All work together to determine the best course of action for each student.

Students are divided into three groups based primarily on age.

Special education paraprofessional Britni Alexander said the program is a great benefit to an autistic student she’s worked with one on one for three years.

“Schedule-wise, this gets him ready to handle the change from summer to school,” she said. “This helps get him back into the groove of things.”

It also helps her to catch him back up before the beginning of the school year so that when the year starts, she can begin helping him progress.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.

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