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Learning through the year

Summer school programs help educators readh at-risk students

Summer school programs help educators readh at-risk students

May 17, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The current school year has not ended, but area educators already have planned ahead for summer programs.

"Summer school is targeted instruction," said Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent for instruction in Washington County schools. This summer, there will be classes at seven elementary schools, four middle schools and at least one high school in Washington County.

For school systems throughout the Tri-State area, summer school is seen as an opportunity to maximize the impact of additional one-on-one attention, as well as a stage for satisfying the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that all educators are facing.

But even more importantly, Abernethy said, is the goal of reaching at-risk children at an earlier age.

"We know the younger the child, the greater the impact of intensified, individual attention," she said, noting there even are classes planned for kindergartners this summer.

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The ratio of student to teacher will be about 12-to-1, and hopefully no higher than 15-to-1, she said.

This summer, for the first time, there also will be enrichment art and music classes available to all elementary summer school students in Washington County, Abernethy said.

Funding for much of the summer school programming in Washington County has come from both the Maryland-based Bridge to Excellence resource and the Washington County Commissioners, Abernethy said.

"The commissioners have been very supportive - they understand what we're doing," she said.

Last summer, 1,026 Washington County students went to summer school, Abernethy said. Of those, 253 were high school students, 237 were in middle school and 536 were elementary students.

When classes get under way in Washington County on June 21, it will be the second year for regional bus transportation, Abernethy said. This year, breakfast and lunch also will be served, she said.

Bob Beard, coordinator of alternative educational programs in Washington County, will be heading up high school summer school at South Hagerstown High School. A veteran summer school teacher, Beard has coordinated the high school curriculum for five years.

"Enrollment drives summer school, so we are planning to have at least one satellite site this summer and it will be at Hancock Middle-Senior High for the Foundations of Math classes," Beard said.

Now that summer school has been compressed into a four-day week, the teachers must speed up the classes even more and that takes a lot of skill, Beard said.

"There will also be a change of focus on the middle-school level this year in Washington County with new courses in reading and math and more computer-based instruction," Abernethy said.

In addition to the traditional academics offered in summer school, plans still are being discussed to have some summer camps at South High, said Boyd Michael, executive director for secondary education in Washington County schools.

"There may also be some enrichment programs, as well as some talented and gifted opportunities at the Fairview Outdoor School this summer," Michael said.

In the Greencastle-Antrim School District in Franklin County, Pa., summer school for grades 9 through 12 is offered both for remediation and acceleration.

"We call it the third semester," said Jack Appleby, director of secondary education for Greencastle-Antrim. "This summer, we will be offering six to seven courses in the four main areas of science, math, social studies and language arts."

Middle-school classes are offered for remediation, so students who are behind can catch up in time for entry into high school.

"At the elementary level, we conduct a number of learning camps at the Tayamentasachta environmental area," Appleby said.

Last summer in Berkeley County, W.Va., about 1,000 elementary school-age children took advantage of the extended year program in the schools, said Frank Aliveto, Berkeley County deputy superintendent.

"It's remedial in reading, language arts and math," he said. Classes are held in about eight schools and are free.

This summer, all middle and senior high classes will be at Hedgesville High School.

"Middle classes are in one wing and high school classes occupy another wing of the same building," Aliveto said.

"We usually have about 800 high school students in summer school with many of those taking classes to get ahead," Aliveto said. About 150 middle-school students usually are enrolled each summer.

In the higher grades, summer school is necessary for any student who failed two subjects and wants to advance in the fall, Aliveto said.

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