It may be summer time, but the doors are open and lights are on at Clear Stream Avenue School. About 160 children are taking part in District 30’s summer academic program.
Select students entering kindergarten through sixth grade spend three hours a day in classes taught by District 30 teachers. “It really helps students get ready for the upcoming school year,” said summer school coordinator Erica Heumann, a fourth-grade teacher at Clear Stream.
The program for younger students focuses on reading, writing and language skills. Heumann said the program has been enhanced this year to also include math instruction. Additionally, students get either an art, music or phys. ed. class each day.
For children entering grades 3-6, there are two components to the program. Half of the day is spent in book club, while the remaining time they work with Lego robotics, a new program in District 30 funded by a performance grant.
In book club, the students read together, but they also discuss books they have read on their own. Lego robotics is a hands-on program that allows the children to hone their science, math and technology skills, while working together to solve a problem.
Classes in the upper grades are limited to 15 students, while class sizes in the lower grades range from six to 10 children. Heumann said that this allows the teachers to provide students with individualized instruction.
Christine Pope is working with students entering first and second grade this summer. She said she likes the changes that have been made this year, specifically the addition of more writing and math activities. “There’s lot of learning opportunities for all the kids,” she said.
Pope, who teaches first grade at Clear Stream during the school year, is working with the summer program for the fifth year. She said it helps keep students sharp during a time of year when they are not likely to be focused on academics. “I see a difference with the kids that attend summer school,” she said.
Students are recommended for the summer program by their teachers. The program is optional, but Heumann said most parents do decide to have their children take advantage of the five extra weeks of school.
Incoming kindergartners are selected for the program following a screening process in the spring.
Heumann said that the program gives students a chance makes friends with children from the district’s other elementary schools. Clear Stream is the perfect location, she said, because it is located in the center of the Valley Stream elementary district.
The summer school program runs through Aug. 9.
Special education support
About 35 students are also enrolled in a six-week special education program. The service, being offered for the second year, is for students with disabilities who require year-round support, according to Nicole Schimpf, the director of special education. Three special education teachers, two speech therapists, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist are working with the children.
Schimpf said students used to go to BOCES for the program, but District 30 decided to offer it in-house to meet a growing need. The students, who also come to Clear Stream every morning, are receiving support in reading, writing and math, and are also taking part in the Lego robotics classes.