School almost out for summer
Extended year nears completion for 18 students
Eleven students and five teachers sat inside a classroom Monday morning at Moffat County High School learning new words like “annihilation.”
The students, in class while their peers enjoy summer vacation, are part of MCHS’ summer school program.
Although only 11 students attended Monday’s session, 18 are enrolled in summer school.
After four weeks of extra attention for the students, the program will finish Thursday.
Different reasons keep students in school during the summer. For some, it is required to get more credits or additional help with certain subjects.
Each year, teachers make recommendations for students who could benefit from summer school.
Students also can be automatically required to go, to make up necessary hours and receive credit for classes in which they have missed more than 10 days.
After a list of students is made, letters are sent to parents to advise them about their child’s situation.
Often, many more letters are sent out than students who enroll.
“Sometimes, because of the timing, we don’t catch as many as we would like,” said Katy Gray, summer school program coordinator, who teaches social studies and English during the regular school year.
Organizers are confident in the program, after seeing students progress throughout the years, particularly in reading.
Students’ progress is measured by giving them two tests – one at the beginning of the four-week program and another at the end.
“We have yet to see a year when we don’t see improvement over four weeks,” Gray said.
Participating teachers are required to complete 20 hours of preparation, including 10 hours in classes on reading instructions, which are taught by Gray, who also is a reading specialist.
“Each of us designs one or more lesson plans usually based around what we teach,” said Wendy Otis, a paraprofessional. “I basically just re-teach, so I chose a unit on math, terminology and the Sand Creek massacre.”
A “skeleton plan,” as Otis called it, of the program’s curriculum is designed before summer school begins but is adjusted each day based on the pace of the class and the feedback received from students.
Another benefit for students is the small size of the class.
This year, five teachers work together to teach 18 students. An average high school class in Craig has about 20 to 25 students per teacher.
“It’s an excellent thing,” Otis said. “They do gain a lot more from having more attention.”
The same kind of attention is given to teachers’ learning.
During the year, teachers may be isolated, but in the four weeks of summer school, they work together.
“The program is designed to allow teachers to develop new teaching strategies,” Gray said.
Through feedback from students’ comments, journals and progress, teachers learn which teaching strategies work and which don’t.
The other four who work with Gray each year have to apply to be part of the program.
Selections are made based on skills or qualities they have to offer students.
This year, writing and technology was emphasized.
For teachers, learning new teaching strategies to use with their own students is part of what pushes them to apply for he summer job.
That was the case for Jennifer Shears, another teacher participating in summer school this year.
“To be able to learn from masters,” Shears said when asked why she chose to teach this summer. “Because if you’re not constantly improving, you might as well stop.”
At the end of the day Monday, students wrapped up and wrote a journal entry before they left.
They have just three more days until their summer begins.
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