Sum­mer fun curbs sum­mer slide

Schuylkill Val­ley of­fers Teach­ers In The Parks Pro­gram

The Hamburg Area Item - - Front Page - By Anne Ostrowski For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

ANNE OSTROWSKI — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Stu­dents en­rolled in Schuylkill Val­ley El­e­men­tary School’s Teach­ers In The Parks pro­gram en­joy lunch.

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