11 Cares for Education: Summer School Special Report

By: Joe Gagnon Email
By: Joe Gagnon Email

There's a program in Mesa County that's taking learning to a whole new level.

District 51 is seeing astounding results from students with its the Extended Education Program.

With rockets flying, this isn't your average classroom.

The Dos Rios Elementary school is turning a seemingly ordinary group of students into extraordinary scholars all in six weeks.

Brian Dickes heads up the Extended Summer Learning Program and says, “We let them know, ‘You know what? You can do this.”

It’s a good time for students who have a hard time during the school year turn their luck and their future around.

“The boost of confidence these kids get is just incredible,” he says.

Meet Aneisha Kennedy. The soon–to–be seventh grader was far behind her peers in reading.

In fact, she was reading and writing at a 3rd grade level.

But summer school gave her something her regular class couldn't.

“They give us hope,” she says.

That hope turned into success. Her grades are rising exponentially.

“I went from a 3rd grade level to an 8th grade level,” she says.

Aneisha's improvement is amazing but her achievements echo many students in the program.

Students who were nearly lost in the shuffle.

Some students are getting lost. From California, to Florida, to Montana, school districts throughout the country have their summer school programs on the chopping block.

So why are kids excelling in the summer?

Why not the fall and spring?

Principal Nickki Schreiner says it's because classrooms here are teacher's dream, they're much smaller.

“It's very individual and we have the time to do it,” she says. “The kids are very excited about being here.”

She says the results speak for themselves.

She’s brought to tears because of Aneisha's newfound love to learn.

“She came to me until the playground cleared… and she gave me a big hug and said ‘I love school’,” she remembers.

The curriculum, hands on. The teaching, more one–on–one.

The perfect storm for Aneisha and her more fulfilling education.

“To me, she's liking school, she's loving reading and that means we've done our job,” she says.

School District 51 says the summer learning program isn't going anywhere.

In fact, the District agreed to add more resources to the program and increase enrollment next year.

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  • by Brad Location: GJ on Jul 23, 2009 at 03:49 PM
    Joe, Great story. Does the heart good. I really hope you post it to the 11Cares for Schools page.
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