Could a new school program schedule on trial this summer be a pre-cursor for the regular school year, here in the Gasconade County R-1 School District?
Federal Programs Director Maranda Anderson said, “For this summer school, we tried a four-day format, just to see [the results], because sometimes we see kids missing [from school in the regular school year] on Friday or Monday.”
She said they kept Friday because that’s typically pool day.
“So we’re taking Mondays off, just to see how that works,” she said.
Squeezing five days into four means there has to be a longer day to make up for that time.
“The longer day seems to work better with parents work schedules, from some of the feedback we were hearing, so we tried this,” said Mrs. Anderson. “We go from 7:45 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. to get in the right amount of hours for summer school (120 hours total per student).”
Why are so many kids in summer school?
“While we do have kids that need that extra repetition, we want other kids to come, because we provide enriching lessons, keeping kids in that routine and keeping kids engaged with their friends and in learning,” she said. “We also provide free breakfast and lunch for these kids, which helps with family budgets right now.
She says it’s important to keep these students reading and writing, so the learning skills aren’t sitting dormant for three months.
Summer school is an opportunity for other learning that the students don’t have time for during their regular curriculum work in the regular school season.
“We have University of Mo. - Extension teachers come in to teach nutrition on Tuesdays at every grade level,” she explained. “On Wednesday, we partner with [Scenic] Public Library, Thursdays, the recycling center from Warrenton comes in for kindergarten through third-grade and then fourth through eighth-grade, the Mo. Department of Conservation [educators] come in from Gray Summit to focus on conservation.”
Friday is pool day, but with Hermann’s flooding problems and the resulting City Park Pool closing, the kids have been traveling to Warrenton to swim. The New Haven pool was a closer option, but most of the life guards were out of town on a school trip to Germany.
Mrs. Anderson said groups of students have also gotten around Hermann to explore local businesses and learned about professions, such as what it is like to be an emergency first responder. The kids have also gone to local nursing homes to visit with the residents.
“About 220 [kids] are enrolled in K-8 only, and we have another 20 to 25 in high school,” she said. “Our attendance has held steady—it’s been up from previous years.”
Mrs. Anderson didn’t know if the bump in summer school enrollment was due to the four day school week or not.
“We have 184 students that have not missed more than two days of summer school,” she adds.
“We’re working hard to provide a lot of things for the kids. We do love and care about our kids [here in Hermann] and our teachers work very hard.”