The slogan of District 24 is “We know we can!” Teachers and administrators believe that every child can be successful, but sometimes they might need a little extra help to get there.
That’s why the Valley Stream elementary district runs a summer school for those student who need an academic boost. Participation in the 20-day program does not determine whether or not a child moves on to the next grade, but it does get them prepared for the next step in their academic journey.
“It’s something to help them,” said summer school Principal Jim Friel. “It’s strictly remedial, just to help the kids in the next grade level.”
Math, reading and writing skills are the priority during the daily three-hour sessions at the Robert W. Carbonaro School. All classes typically have between 10 and 12 students, and are taught by teachers from the district.
There are classes for students entering kindergarten through sixth-grade. Most of the kindergartners will have the same teacher in the fall.
Norma Ferrigno, a kindergarten teacher at Carbonaro, said she focuses on letter and number recognition, shapes and colors, and school routines with her summer students. They also get a chance to make some friends before they arrive in September. “It’s just a shorter version of a typical kindergarten day,” she said.
To make the class fun, Ferrigno has her students study a different author each week, then do art projects relating to the books they read.
Working with incoming second-graders is Andrea Sommella. Her students spend a half-day honing their language and reading skills, then finish the day doing math. She said she likes the small class sizes so each child can get the attention they need.
Sommella said she sees the benefits to summer school. “A lot of research says they forget a lot over the summer,” she said, adding that three hours a day of learning is better than spending that time playing video games.
John Reece is working with students entering fourth-grade and has them reviewing their times tables, writing in journals and reading independently. He has worked with the summer program for eight years and said it is very rewarding to see the “light bulb come on” when a child grasps a concept.