Hundreds Take Part In Summer Educational Programs

Many new hires or promoted employees attended the most recent Board of Education meeting. (Screenshot by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – This summer, over 425 students are attending the district’s special education programs, which include some 100 students participating in a five-week ESY (Extended School Year) program, 200 students in a four-week ESY program, and 125 students in a two-week Enrichment Program.

  Director of Special Services Kristen Hanson said her department has designed innovative programs to ensure that as many students as possible receive services this summer.

  The instruction for these programs is different from the instruction in the general education programs because the summer programs are IEP driven, Hanson said during the most recent Board of Education meeting.

  An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a written document that is developed for each public school student who is eligible for special education.

  “The focus is specifically on math and ELA (English and language arts) skills, social emotional learning, virtual field trips and assemblies, which enrich the six-hour day,” she said.

  Students may also receive related services such as occupational and/or physical therapy, speech, counseling and/or multisensory reading instruction.

BOE President Stephanie Wohlrab, left, and Superintendent Dr. Thomas Farrell conduct business during the most recent Board of Education meeting. (Screenshot by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  The ESY Behavior, Academic & Social Education (B.A.S.E.) Program is enriching to the students, Hanson said, which incorporates a different theme each week, hands-on math, manipulative learning kits, and more.

  The program partners with a lot of community organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, who provide attendance and behavioral prizes weekly, an ice cream social, and an end-of-year pizza party for the students.

  The Enrichment Program includes students who, due to their IEPs, might not be eligible for the ESY Program.

  The two-week program was developed to help with the learning acceleration of the special education students who receive academic, behavioral support, social and emotional learning in small group or one-on-one instruction. The program meets from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day.

  Director of Curriculum Dr. Alyce Anderson said that there are an additional 375 students who are attending Summer SPARK, an acronym for “Support Growth, Peak Understanding, Accelerate Learning, Recharge with Fun, and Kindle New Interests.” This summer the program has doubled its typical registration, she said.

  “The metaphor is intended because we want to ignite curiosity, creativity and confidence,” she said.

  All students – regular education, English language learners, and special education students not attending ESY – were invited to attend Summer SPARK, which is an umbrella term for all enrichment programs the district is offering.

  These include Jump Start, a Music Camp, the Credit Recovery Program, a Virtual Enrichment club, the Art Immersion experience, and the Math ARCADEmies, Dr. Anderson said.

  Students are engaged in collaborative activities, such as designing bird feeders and solving math scavenger hunts.

  With federal funding extended, the district is able to expand the Jump Start program’s length and duration, so the program runs from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

Director of Curriculum Dr. Alyce Anderson, left, and Director of Special Services Kristen Hanson discuss special needs summer programs. (Screenshot by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  The Music Camp, which has a band and chorus, has 125 participants. At the end of the summer they will put on a performance for family members, Anderson said.

  “We are also recovering from the pandemic,” she said. “To some of our students it posed a significant challenge, so to keep our students on-track with their cohorts we designed a Credit Recovery Program that places a strong emphasis on building relationships, student engagement, project-based learning and interactive tasks, as well as goal-setting,” she said.

  The district is also offering Mindfulness Art Immersion for students in grades 6 through 12, and 70 Virtual Enrichment Clubs in which 275 students participate. Many students participate in multiple clubs, Anderson added.

  Math ARCADEmies and Bridge to Algebra begin in August. These are weeklong math “boot camps,” that engage the students in fun activities to help them apply math concepts, she said.

  The next Board of Education meeting will be on Thursday August 19 at 7 p.m. at the Professional Development Center.