Summer school is still about learning, catching up

Summer school is no break from education. Students still have homework. Participation is still required. Failure is still not an option.

Summer school is no break from education. Students still have homework. Participation is still required. Failure is still not an option.

“Summer school overall is much more organized,” said Jill Carlson, Central Kitsap School District’s new director of curriculum. “I think there’s a lot more thought about where we want to go and how we want to get there.”

In both Kitsap County School Districts, the main purpose for summer school is for credit recovery, according to school officials. It’s an accelerated program that allows students to buckle down and focus for a few short weeks to make the grade. Central Kitsap School District students attend school for 17 days, Monday through Friday. Bremerton School District students sit in classes for 15 days out of the summer, Monday through Thursday.

Districts charge between $110-$250 for students to attend summer sessions The fee puts a little more value in the education students are receiving, said David Guertin, principal of Summer Academy for CKSD.

Much to the surprise of  school officials in Central Kitsap, students easily settled into their school routines as they would during the school year. Classes were offered at Ridgetop Jr. High for grades 6-12 for a variety of math, reading and writing courses. Independent study and online courses also were available this summer, allowing students to clear up spots in their fall schedule for other courses they want.

“We had almost a serene start,” said Guertin of the 760 enrolled students. “They’re starting to come alive now.”

Eli Lines hopes his hard work in an Algebra I class will pay off this summer. It is the 16-year-old’s first time in summer school, and he is required to pass the course in order to move on to tenth grade.

“I actually like it a lot,” he said. “It’s kinda a bit of pressure. (But) it’s not like I can’t do it.”

Lines said he felt a better connection to his summer school teacher and the way she presents things. Smaller class sizes also allow him one-on-one time if he needs it, which is helpful, he said.

New interim CKSD Superintendent Hazel Bauman got her first sight of teachers at work on July 24  when she took a quick tour of the Summer Academy. Bauman and Carlson visited a math class and English Language Learner class.

“I think it’s a great gift for students who need an extra boost,” said Bauman of the program. “I got a good first impression.”

Inside one classroom, students from Japan, Korea, China, Ukraine and several other countries worked together on reading skills. Foreign high school and elementary school students are paired together in the mornings to work together on overcoming language difficulties while learning English.

“They’re eager learners,” said Donna Stanton, an English-as-a-second language (ESL) teacher. “They’re very studious and their efforts are sincere. That’s what makes it so easy.”

This week, the Bremerton School District wrapped up its summer school session where remedial classes were offered for students from 6th through 12th grades. CKSD will finish on Aug. 9.

The Bremerton School District had a much smaller group of students retaking courses — a mere 70 students.

“This year, as in past years, we offered English (Freshman – Senior), Algebra, Geometry, US History, World History, Science and HSPE Preparation in reading and writing,” said Patty Glaser, Bremerton School District Communications Coordinator. “Also, for the first time, we offered an online credit accrual option for students who wanted to take a class over the summer to either make more room in the schedule for something that they may be interested  inthat was not offered at the high school.”

The online option allowed high school students to work ahead for more credits toward graduation. Students who want to take a class that isn’t normally available during the school year can do so for $160 throughout the summer. Students taking online classes had live one-on-one instruction 24 hours a day.

“We’re very excited to provide this opportunity to students this summer,” said Kati Cathum, Bremerton School District digital education coordinator. “In a way, it’s an extension of the Online Options after school program available last school year at BHS and Mountain View Middle School. The success of the program in allowing students to take extra courses outside of the school day led to the idea of extending that opportunity into the summer.  So far, feedback has been positive.”

Eleven high school students signed up for the program this year where they could choose from everything from core classes to AP classes, Cathum said. All courses are taught by Washington State certified teachers and are to be completed in 50 days.

“Their only limitation was that they could only take one semester long course, so if they wanted to start a full year course, they were aware the second half would need to be taken during the school year, either during their regular schedule or in the after school program,” she said.

“This year was a trial run, to see how it went and if it met the needs of our students. Once the summer option ends, we’ll evaluate the program, look at its effectiveness, and make decisions from there. Our goal when it comes to online offerings in the Bremerton School District is to go slow, set it up correctly and grow the program with care and deliberation.”

Both school districts won’t know for awhile what the pass and failure rate is until school is completed and statistics are gathered.