DODDS-Europe summer school: For students who love learning
Stars and Stripes March 6, 2006
Summer school used to be for kids who flunked a class and needed to pass to be promoted.
For the third year, DODDS-Europe is offering summer school for young students who simply want to keep on learning.
The curriculum, by Voyager Expanded Learning, combines math, science, language and other subjects into one morning-long class and is for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Classes run from 9 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday, for four weeks starting July 5.
“I’m really going to be out this year to get the kids to come in,” said Ruth Ann Montes, a teacher at A.T. Mahan Elementary School at Naval Station Keflavik, Iceland. “It’s really a wonderful enrichment program.
“If you want to get [a] child excited about learning, or to continue to be excited about learning, this summer school is the way to do it.”
Classes will only be offered where enough students are signed up, according to Carol Czerw, DODDS-Europe’s Education Division chief. Registration dates will be announced at the individual schools.
The classes can also provide a diversion for families with a deployed parent, according to Steven Ferch, who taught fourth- and fifth-graders last summer at Schweinfurt Elementary School in Germany.
“I’m sure it helped the spouses that were here,” Ferch said. “And it helped the kids maintain some level of activity to keep their minds in focus and off what [was] going on over there in Iraq.
“My dad was deployed when I was younger, so I remember going through the same thing.”
In May, 3,848 students registered and 3,167 students attended the classes for an absentee rate of 15 percent, according to DODDS-Europe.
The program was implemented at 39 sites. Czerw said she was happy with the interest.
“Although we want parents to sign their children up, we also expect those who sign up to show up when the doors open,” Czerw said in a press release.
This summer in Lakenheath, England, the older students might get a chance to combine math and language by creating their own newspaper or Web site, said Anita Hacker, who was the principal for last year’s summer school.
Students, for example, would have to use math to fit words and photos on a page, and use language skills to write the stories.
Last year, the younger students learned about octopuses and frogs, combining science and reading.
“It was my first experience with elementary students,” said Hacker, who normally teaches middle-schoolers. “It was astonishing to see these little faces light up.”
The classes also give a chance for students from different grades to work together.
Montes said her class last year had children in grades three through six.
One of the lessons, she said, required figuring out the properties of certain rocks, such as which were magnetic, which contained chalk, and which were soft.
Students then had to identify the rocks.
“You really should not cease learning in the summer,” Montes said.
“You need to continually read and write and use math in everyday life.”