BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Expanding summer programming from three to six weeks, adding a full-day component for students in grades K-6 and offering a summer program for students in grades 7-12 are some of the ways the Maumee school district will address learning gaps related to the COVID-19 virus.
Michelle Shafer, the district director of teaching and learning, said that while students have done extremely well keeping up with their education throughout the past year, learning gaps do exist. Data from screening methods that track students’ progress indicate those gaps compared with previous years, she said.
“They are not double digits – the kids are making great growth, so that is encouraging,” Shafer said.
To help fill the gaps, the district will introduce more robust educational programming throughout the summer for all students in grades K-12. The programming could accommodate up to 600 students, although it remains unclear how many students will participate.
Summer Blitz, a new program aimed at students in grades 7-12, will offer an Academics Plus program. In addition to classroom work, the students will have employment opportunities, they will work with job mentors and they will have a chance to volunteer in the community. MHS counselor Justin Fults is creating the new program, which will run for six weeks and include both in-person and online work.
“It’s really exciting,” Shafer said. “We have the capacity to bring at least 100 students into the program and this is the first time we have done it, so we are hopeful.”
The program will help high school students who are credit-deficient or have had attendance issues. However, the program is open to any student interested in earning additional credits or volunteer opportunities in the community, said Fults.
“We appreciate the opportunity to be creative with the resources we are given,” Fults said.
As done previously, the district will host a summer camp for students in kindergarten through sixth grades. This year, however, the camp has been extended from three to six weeks and while it traditionally takes place in the morning, an optional afternoon program has been added for those children who choose to stay the entire day. Approximately 130 students are registered for the K-6 program and 75 percent were invited to attend.
Wayne Trail fifth-grade teacher Stacey Snyder will run the summer camp.
“We’re adding on a whole new series, so we are offering two full three-week sessions,” she said.
The first session, which runs in June, will focus on STEAM learning, which is centered around science, technology, engineering, art and music. The second session, which runs in July, will focus on the summer Olympics, and will include outdoor activities and games.
“We’re trying to do less computer-based activities and more real-world activities and hands-on activities, which the kids have really been missing this school year,” Snyder said.
The Maumee Makers program, which normally takes place at Union school for kindergarten through third grades, has been added to the summer camp program. The Makers program is operated through the Wood County Educational Service Center and will be conducted at Wayne Trail Elementary during the afternoons throughout the six-week summer camp program.
“Parents technically could have their child here all day,” Snyder said.
Children will also be provided breakfast, lunch and dinner, she added.
Both Snyder and Fults presented information about the programming at the April 12 school board meeting.
According to Shafer, money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act as well as a privately funded JLW Foundation grant will help cover costs of the summer program.
While this year has been exceptionally challenging, there is always a silver lining, Shafer said.
“The initiative of our teachers, counselors and administrators to find innovative ways to reach students and provide help to our families has been so important,” Shafer said. “It’s such a great community. We feel that support as they have stuck with us as we make these changes and try to figure out the best way, and that is so helpful for our staff.”