Summer fun curbs summer slide
Schuylkill Valley offers Teachers In The Parks Program
Summertime, and the learning is easy for students enrolled in Schuylkill Valley Elementary School’s “Teachers In The Parks” program.
The six- week summer camp for rising third and fourth- graders meets twice a week under shady trees in a Leesport park. The object is to have fun while curbing the summer slide — a tendency for students to forget part of what they’ve learned in school during summer break.
Created by Exeter School District teacher Matthew Hathaway in 2004, Teachers In The Parks ( TIPS) has been adopted by five Berks County elementary schools. Schuylkill Valley held its first TIPS program last summer with 12 students and four teachers. This year, the pro-
gram has blossomed to include 48 young people and nine teachers.
Unlike traditional summer school which takes place in classrooms, the TIPS program draws students, whose parents sign them up to attend, because it doesn’t feel like school. “The students have so much fun, they don’t realize they’re learning,” said Heather Hummel, lead teacher for the program. Teachers and students gather together in the morning, before it gets too hot, for science experi- ments, yoga, games, books, writing, “brain breaks,” math and social studies. Hummel values the creative opportunities the program provides to the teachers who participate. “Our goal is to make learning fun while creating a longlasting program that helps some of our students bridge the summer learning gap,” Hummel said. “So many times when we’re in the classroom, we’re restricted to what we have to teach. With TIPS we get to be innovative and integrate all the subjects that we enjoy.”
This year’s themes included stars and stripes, the rainforest, shark week, nature, travel around the world and animals, and incorporated experiments like making fireworks in a jar, jungle slime, shaving cream rain clouds and animal tracks with do- it- yourself silly putty. Schuylkill Valley Elementary School Assistant Principal Melissa Rhoads is pleased to offer the program.
“I am so proud that we are able to provide our students with this opportunity,” said Rhoads. “We have so many hardworking, creative teachers who are dedicated to planning and preparing fun and educational experiences for our students throughout the summer.”
Last week, the Pennsylvania Executive Deputy Secretary of Education visited Berks County for a news conference to herald the success of the TIPS programs. David W. Volkman said that it can take more than a month to reteach learning lost to the summer slide. Schuylkill Valley’s teachers in the park — Heather Hummel, Sandy Borkey, Sandra Griffiths, Cathy Gwiazdowski, Marisa Horne, Joel Kleinspehn, Felicia McDevitt, Amanda Wilson and nurse Patricia Meals — are confident that the climb back up the slide will be a little less strenuous for the students in their program once they’re back to school in late August.
Students enrolled in Schuylkill Valley Elementary School’s Teachers In The Parks program enjoy lunch.