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  • Greene County Summer School Serving 800 Students

    A common perception of summer school is that it is for those who failed a class or need to add a required course that will not fit in their regular academic year.

    But summer school in the Greene County School System is far different.

    About 800 students will be served through the system’s summer school this year, which includes programs for incoming kindergarteners as well as kindergarten through eighth-graders that focus on preventing the “summer slide” or preparing them to begin school. A report about the program was given Monday to the Education Committee of the Greene County Commission.​

    Last year, the school system secured a state Ready to Read grant for a kindergarten through second grade summer program and the Greene County Board of Education provided additional funding for grades 3-8.

    “It went better than expected,” said Dr. Kristi Wallin, curriculum supervisor for the system. “We received good feedback from students, parents, and teachers.”

    Building on that solid foundation, the system has expended the summer school program in its second year and added a preparatory program for students entering kindergarten.

    “We want to decrease that slide that students often have from May to August,” said Dr. Kristi Wallin, curriculum supervisor for the system. “Our goal is for students to maintain their skills, but last year, we had some students who improved from where they were in May.”

    The system received $249,000 from the Ready to Read state grant program for the K-2 summer school, which finishes this week.

    “We have put a large emphasis on K-2 for the last few years,” said Greene County Schools Director David McLain. “It is important that students get that solid foundation.”

    Summer school has been held at each elementary school, and students were invited to attend based on their socio-economic status and their ability to benefit from the program, not on their grades, Wallin explained.

    The reading program for the K-2 followed a theme, she said, with five hours of instruction and some fun each day, she said.​

    The state grant program has a goal of increasing children’s access to books, and the grant provides funds for the purchase of books that the students can take home with them, Wallin said.

    One of the highlights of the program has been a field trip to Barnes and Noble, where students could pick $30 worth of books of their choice. “It was amazing to see,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of these students probably had not been in a book store setting since we don’t have a bookstore in Greeneville. They were so excited and amazed at what they saw.”

    Other field trips explored local history, and have included visits to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, the Greene County Courthouse, and Cherokee, North Carolina.

    Students in the program for grades 3-8 have also gone on some of the local field trips as well, Wallin said.

    The program for these grades was two weeks long last year, she said, and after feedback from teachers, it was expanded to three weeks. The county school board provided the funds to provide the educational opportunity.

    Transportation — along with breakfast and lunch — are provided for the students in summer school.

    Chartwells, the food service provider for the program, has provided meals for summer school. Wallin commended Chartwells for supporting teachers in the program, noting that for an “international tour” activity the food service provider cooked international dishes for the students to sample as well as the regular menu for the day.

    Another addition this year is a “jump start” program for rising kindergartners that will be in July, Wallin said.​

    This program is designed to prepare students coming into kindergarten for school and helping them to acclimate to what they will experience, she explained.

    This program also will have students invited to participate based on assessments completed when they registered, Wallin said.

    The system’s Book Bus is another important part of the summer activities for the system, she continued.

    The Book Bus has visited each school for summer school students to pick books to check out. In addition, she said, the bus has visited apartment complexes and trailer parks as well as some churches that have requested that the bus stop during vacation Bible schools.

    The system has had teachers and bus drivers willing to participate in the program, particularly after the success last year, she said.

    Participating have been 145 teachers providing instruction and 25 bus drivers running routes, Wallin said.

    Wallin and Dr. Julia Lamons, data supervisor for the system, were commended by Dr. Bill Ripley, associate director of schools for academics, for their work behind the scenes to coordinate the summer school and make it a success.​

    Greeneville Sun ​​

    June 26, 2018