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Summer Academy
Norwalk School District

Grade level/Age Range of Students in Program:  Students who have completed K-8 (“rising” 1st- 9th graders)

Primary Student Needs Program is Designed to Address

NPS Summer Academy provides learning experiences that build knowledge, increase reading and math proficiency, support artistic exploration, nurture social emotional development, and get children moving outdoors in games and play. A key component of the Summer Academy is the inquiry based science experiences delivered though a partnership between NPS teachers and Maritime Aquarium personnel. Personnel from the Maritime Aquarium teach students at the Aquarium, through a research vessel on the Long Island Sound, and at NPS elementary and middle schools – along with NPS teachers. Animal-focused programs are  led by Aquarium educators and serve as content that motivates daily lessons in math, literacy and arts, led by NPS teachers.

Most Innovative or Successful Elements of the Program

An Innovation Grant from the CT State Department of Education’s 2022 Summer Enrichment Grant Program covers most of the Aquarium’s costs for its role in the Summer Academy. 

The inquiry based science program is a product of a close working relationship between the NPS and personnel from the Maritime Aquarium. Summer Academy provides a range of motivating, creative, and hands on activities at the Aquarium including, an experience “working” on a research vessel on the Long Island Sound. In-class scientific lessons are organized around themes such as the study of marine animals and coastal habitats.

Parents are invited to an Open House at the Maritime Center prior to the start of the program and at the culmination of the program – where students get to showcase and explain projects they have completed. Open House has been a great motivator for students and an effective way to engage parents and families.

The NPS-Aquarium summer program, began in 2021, serving 771 students in grades K-3. In 2022 the program serves 1,200 students in grades K-8. The development of this extraordinary program is in large part a testament to the vision of the leadership of the NPS and the Maritime Aquarium – as well as the outstanding work being done by personnel from both organizations.

In speaking with NPS and Aquarium personnel, one gets the impression that there is tremendous energy being enthusiastically devoted to the continuous development of this unique program, which is only in its second year.

How Are the Outcomes of the Program Measured

There are a variety of quantitative and qualitative measures used by the NPS to evaluate program outcomes. At the kindergarten level assessment includes phoneme segmentation. Teachers in Grades 1-8 assess oral reading fluency and samples of student work. Teachers meet weekly on data teams to discuss student progress. Teachers are surveyed at the completion of the summer program.

Of interest is the fact that Aquarium staff are looking to use an outside entity to evaluate the effectiveness of its work in the Summer Academy – toward the objective of continuous improvement.

Location of the Program

Maritime Aquarium, 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT, 06854
In addition to multiple visits to the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium, Summer Academy programs are located at NPS - Brookside Elementary, Kendall College and Career Academy, Marvin Elementary, Naramake Elementary, Pontus Ridge STEAM Academy, Rowayton Elementary, and Tracy Magnet School.

Operational Features

Summer Academy runs from July 5 through August 5. Summer Academy Schools Hours are: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm or 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Bus transportation is provided – as are breakfast and lunch

Community Partner: Maritime Aquarium – facilities and personnel

Staff Selection/Recruitment Procedures

Staff recruitment for the Summer Academy begins in earnest, every year, in January. The majority of Summer Academy teachers are from the NPS. Compensation for teachers is determined by the district’s collective bargaining agreement. Para-educators are also recruited from the NPS and are an integral part of the program.

Student Selection/Recruitment Procedures

As a Priority School District the NPS operates within Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) Guidelines. The student eligibility/invitation process for Summer Academy includes:

Achievement in K-3 through DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills)

Achievement in grades 4-6 through NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association)

Overall achievement in grades 7-8

Program Contact
Jennifer Katona, Ph.D.,Grants Administrator   |