East Noble considers launching new academic summer camp

April 22nd, 2019

By Steve Garbacz | KPC Media - The News Sun

Maybe the best way to beat students’ “summer slide” is to simply get them back in the classroom for some fun learning in June and July.

That’s the idea South Side Elementary teachers Ashley Strack and Melissa Spencer want to try out this summer.

The two third-grade teachers pitched the idea for a new summer camp to East Noble school board members Wednesday night at a meeting at South Side.

Strack said she’d been thinking a lot about how to make sure students don’t lose their academic knowledge and skills over the three-month break.

“That summer slide, we’re always combating it and figuring out ways to try to prevent it,” Strack said. “So what if we open up our doors and try a summer camp that combines literacy and those academics, but also ties in STEM and a community component?”

With fellow teacher Spencer, the two created a program for this summer consisting of two monthlong sessions, with camp classes that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with two Friday field trips.

The first session would run in June with the themes animals and government, while the second session would take place in July with a focus on plants and fiction.

The camp would be open to incoming third-graders. Third grade is an especially important year in elementary school, because it’s when students take the IREAD-3 standardized test.

“Our goal is kind of to prepare students for third grade by focusing on the literacy needs for third grade and encompassing some STEM activities,” Spencer said. “We want to make students feel welcome to come back into the school setting and feel comfortable learning.”

The academic lessons would also come with a community involvement component. For example, in the June session, Strack and Spencer talked about a STEM activity to make cat toys, then take those across Sherman Street to the Noble County Humane Society to try out on the cats and give to the shelter.

For a government component, students could make a project about the three branches of government and take them to Kendallville City Hall for a tour and leave their projects on display.

To start, each session would be open to 10 students, allowing a 5-to-1 student to teacher ratio. Each session would have two available times from 8-9:30 a.m. or 10-11:30 a.m., allowing for up to 20 students each session.

Parents could sign students up for one or both sessions during the summer. The cost would be $120 per session, or $220 for both.

If more parents are interested, Strack said more teachers have already expressed an interest in helping so the program could expand to meet the demand.

School board President Dan Beall said he loved the idea, especially by weaving in a community component.

“Absolutely love the combination of education and of service,” he said.