Not summer school, DODDS program is in a class by itself
Stars and Stripes June 1, 2007
European edition, Friday, June 1, 2007
Just donâ€™t call it summer school.
About 3,000 students across seven countries wonâ€™t be getting completely away from the classroom this summer. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe is offering a free summer enrichment program at 27 sites July 2-27.
But itâ€™s not â€œsummer school.â€
â€œThe old stereotype of summer school being a drag is not there,â€ said Leo Orlando, chief of staff for the Isles District. â€œItâ€™s not a remedial thing.â€
Parents were notified of the program earlier this spring and had the option of enrolling pupils in kindergarten through eighth-grade. Based on the number of interested students, DODDS set up its sites and hired teachers, said Deb Pohlmann, subject matter expert at the DODDS-Europe headquarters in Germany.
The teachers will include regular DODDS instructors, substitute teachers and teacherâ€™s aides.
The program will be different from what DODDS offers during the course of the year, but not just something to keep students busy during the summer.
â€œIt is ongoing, engaged learning, definitely not baby-sitting,â€ Pohlmann said.
Students will use material from Voyager Expanded Learning, which features a series of interactive â€œadventures.â€ In essence, throughout the four-week course, theyâ€™ll be acting as detectives solving mysteries or as scientists exploring subjects and conducting experiments.
â€œIâ€™m usually not a fan of prefabricated material,â€ said Kim Mitchell, instructional systems specialist with the Isles District. â€œBut the kids really enjoy this. Itâ€™s done in a stimulating, fun kind of way.â€
Students attend sessions from 9 a.m. to noon daily. Classes are broken down into three age groups â€” another benefit as far as Mitchell is concerned.
â€œThey get to meet other kids of different ages,â€ she said.
Material, which features videos, Internet links and books, and plenty of hands-on experience are based around language arts and mathematics.
â€œThere is also a lot of science and some social studies as well,â€ Mitchell said.
Pohlmann said the program is popular with students and parents.
DODDS-Europe started the program in 2003 in a few areas of Germany to help support parents deployed to Iraq. Itâ€™s been held across the continent for the last three years.
Pohlmann recalls one conversation a mother told her she had with her son.
â€œShe said: â€˜My son said I was the best mother in the whole world, because I let him go to summer school,â€™â€ Pohlmann said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Ben Murray contributed to this story.