Middle School Summer Program
West Hartford School District
Rising grade 7-9 students
This six week program was designed to increase student engagement and self-efficacy. It was framed around literacy, numeracy, enrichment, and exploration activities with goal setting and social and emotional skills integrated throughout. Students had choice in the selection of their exploration area with topics spanning art, drama, wellness and geolocation, world languages and cultures. Teachers built student capacity in goal setting, self-management, self-awareness, and relationship skills. All students met summer reading expectations by reading at least one novel.
RECRUITING STUDENTS AND STAFF
The Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction identified a learner profile and coordinated with school leadership to identify students who might benefit from an engagement-based program. Recommendations for the program were based on attendance, academic performance, and social-emotional needs displayed throughout the school year. In collaboration with school counselors, grade-level teams recommended students, ranked students (high priority, medium priority, low priority), and provided recommendation notes (e.g. attendance, work completion, etc.). At the conclusion of Quarter 3, school leadership and school counselors invited families via a personal phone call. On a shared spreadsheet, each school inputted the person responsible for contact, the family’s response, and transportation needs. The program coordinator sent a welcome letter to all families and the transportation office communicated bus information ahead of the opening date. Advisors followed up with contact to families prior to program start.
All staff hired for the Middle School Summer Program are WHPS educators, with the majority serving in roles at the middle school level. Beginning in early March, job postings were advertised internally for the coordinator, teacher, counselor, and TA positions. Interested applicants submitted applications through a Google Form. Applicants were asked to share their experiences related to working with disengaged students/youth and share their skills/interests outside of academics that would enhance the program offerings. Positions are filled based on need in numeracy, literacy, and exploration areas (physical, artistic, and creative environment).
Class sizes are small with no more than 10 students per class. The program runs from 8-12, Monday-Friday. Students are broken into triads consisting of a numeracy, literacy, and exploration teacher. Students are assigned to a triad-based advisory where students begin their day with SEL/goal-setting activities. Students rotate through literacy and numeracy classes on-triad. Students complete a survey to identify their exploration choice. Exploration offerings include: drama, art, fitness & geolocation, world culture & language, STEM, and coding. Students participate in two exploration cycles throughout the duration of the program. Students also have choice when it comes to selecting their mid-morning interest block (independent reading, origami, board games, etc.). Students end their day returning to advisory for a closure activity.
Teachers design curriculum around reinforcing challenging skills from the previous school year and front loading skills for the upcoming school year. Numeracy teachers have access to iReady and IXL to personalize instruction. Completion of summer reading is an assured learning experience for all literacy classes. SEL & goal-setting extends into content classes. Teachers frequently collaborate to design triad-based team building activities. Teachers prioritize engagement throughout all areas of the program.
In Year 1 (summer 2021), grab-and-go meals were offered. The program is housed at the high school summer school site, and many resources are shared (e.g. school nurse and security). Books are distributed on “Free Book Friday” and students have access to the high school library. A program TA is hired to manage attendance, parent communication, etc. Transportation is coordinated with the transportation office. Rising sixth graders were included in the Middle School Program for Year 1, but were placed with elementary for Year 2.
Paul Vicinus, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction | email@example.com
Jen Omartian | firstname.lastname@example.org