Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Remedial Summer Camp

If you know a kid who needs extra help in reading and math but attending traditional summer school isn't possible, why not suggest sending the youngster to one of these non-traditional summer camps?
When she's reading, Shelby Lins sometimes trips over words and gets confused.

But this summer, the 10-year-old is getting help with her reading problems in the Neshaminy School District's [Pennsylvania] special math and reading tutorial camps, which are being held at Maple Point Middle School in Middletown.

“I'm doing better, taking it step by step,” said Shelby, a fifth-grader at Oliver Heckman Elementary in Middletown.

More than 80 elementary children and about 35 middle school students are enrolled in the five-week Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tutorial program, which wraps up at the end of this month, said Jacqueline Rattigan, director of elementary education.

The PSSA program was also incorporated at the high school level in the district's Summer PASS camp, which is for teens with emotional, social and behavioral problems.

Classes were paired in each grade level with no more than 10 kids per room, Rattigan said. The individualized attention is building the kids' confidence, said Kristy McDonough, a first-grade teacher at Joseph Ferderbar Elementary.

“They're going to be ahead of the game next school year,” said Randy Nesbitt, a special education teacher at Lower Southampton Elementary.

The kids have been tested before and after each weeklong lesson to track progress, Rattigan said.

It's the district's first time holding the PSSA camps in the summer. Officials tried tutoring throughout the school year, but found that the days were too long and lessons taught to the test, not necessarily the curriculum, Rattigan said.

This reinforcement summer program is a combination of PSSA requirements and in-the-classroom needs, she said. Similar programs are also offered in Council Rock and Bensalem school districts.

“We think this is the best so far,” Rattigan said. “Each year, more and more students need to be proficient. We're trying to jump ahead and be proactive.”

Emily Leipziger, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Neshaminy Middle School, said she's learning how to deal with her math problems.

“I'm getting the hang of it because [the teachers] are giving me ideas for how to memorize formulas,” Emily said.

Students were asked to volunteer based on academic need and at no cost to parents, Rattigan said. The camps are being funded by a state educational assistance grant and accountability block grant totaling $35,000, according to district spokeswoman Sandra Costanzo.

Officials will follow the kids throughout the school year and survey students, parents and teachers to rate the camps' success, before deciding to run it again next year, Rattigan said.
This whole thing reminds me of a song that I heard when I was a little KidWonk. It was a cute little ditty about a "spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down."
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