Head over heels for summer school at McPolin Elementary | ParkRecord.com

Head over heels for summer school at McPolin Elementary

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

It takes practice to nail a perfect flip, or to master math and reading.

Elementary students from around the district just wrapped up six weeks of summer school at McPolin where they worked on everything from phonics to tumbling.

End-of-year assessment tests helped teachers to identify about 100 students in grades K-5 that needed remediation in math and literacy. Through a partnership with Holy Cross Ministries, the district was able to offer a full-day program that included academics, art and physical activity.

Community Education Director Judy Tukuafu said the students, approximately 85 percent of which are Hispanic, enjoy the experience.

"Kids are very happy to be there and are learning in a fun way," she said.

In the morning children arrive at McPolin Elementary to focus on math and reading. Counselor Hugo Meza said the children are divided into classrooms based on ability. This year’s program was made up of seven classes of 15 students.

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"They were grouped according to reading needs so that the teacher was working with a similar group of students," Tukuafu said.

Meza added the individualized attention helps boost the students self esteem and confidence for the upcoming year.

"We’re making them feel important," Meza said.

For a minimal cost, students have the option of completing their morning lessons and staying at school through the afternoon for arts, crafts and physical activity provided through Holy Cross Ministries.

"We want to keep them active because they might not get it at home," Meza said.

Students have recieved a variety of opportunities including gymnastics, dancing, swimming and horseback riding.

At a fiesta held last week students got to demonstrate some of the dance and tumbling skills for parents. The evening also included a slide show and video presentation of some of their activities during summer school.

Now that the program has concluded teachers will look for progress in the students’ test scores.

"They do a pre- and post-test within the program and compared to where they started the program and where they ended the program we definitely saw gains," Tukuafu said.

McPolin Elementary School Principal Lori O’Connor said there are benefits that can not be monitored with testing.

"Some of our greatest gains aren’t measurable, including the continued exposure to the English language," she said.

Tukuafu added, the program can help give students a favorable impression of school.

"I think one thing that is really important is that it helps them have a good outlook on school," she said.

The tangible progress of the summer school participants will be tracked over the upcoming year.

"Each school is going to get a spreadsheet and the teachers are going monitor the students to see if they have made progress," Meza said.

Principal O’Connor said there is definitely a need for the program in the community and said funding is a bit tight.

"We are anticipating the challenges will be even greater this year," O’Connor said noting the recent reports of a deficit in the school district’s budget.

As it stands now Tukuafu said the program relies on funding from a state reading initiative grant. O’Connor observed the summer school would not be possible without the donations of members in the community and the commitment of staff and volunteers. She extended her appreciation for their support.

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