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Successful Summer Academy Gets Students Ready For School

August 4, 2021

Summer Academy

Parma City School District set sail for a successful summer with the Summer Academy of Learning and Enrichment!

The five-week program has been going strong, providing math and reading interventions as well as enrichment opportunities for about 475 students in grades K – 8. Students from across the district participated in the summer academy, which was completely free to attend.

Christopher Keating, Middle School Summer Academy Principal, and Allison Kokely, Elementary School Summer Academy Principal, are proud to be leading this important program for students this summer.

“I’m proud that we are offering a free, all-day program for our students in our community,” Keating said. “They are not only getting five weeks of math and literacy review but are working in areas that they might not have the chance to do in a normal classroom setting. We just want to get students excited and ready to learn.”

“Beyond learning, the idea of getting back into a routine, especially for our younger students, is essential for them to be successful when we start our new school year in August,” Kokely added. “We are so proud to be able to lead this program and build it from the ground up. It has been nothing but rewarding.” 

Keating explained in years past, summer school focused on the third-grade reading guarantee with a small staff working with third graders. There have also been other programs in the summer, but they were tuition-based. This year, it was open to many more students.

“We really worked to identify two populations of students who would benefit this program, our gifted students and student who were a little off track,” Kokely shared. “We invited these students first, but the whole district was invited to sign up. We accepted everyone who registered.”

Students are in the same grade as they were in the 2020 – 2021 school year, but in the Summer Academy, they are considered ‘rising’ to their next grade. In addition to math and reading, each child gets three unique enrichment opportunities such as STEM, art and social-emotional learning.

There are 50 staff members for the full-day, four days a week program, all working together to create a meaningful summer experience for students. Summer Academy is following the BellXcel curriculum from Scholastic.

“I can’t say enough good things about the staff that we have over the summer here, from cleaners and cafeteria staff to liaisons, monitors and classroom teachers, everyone has just been amazing,” Kokely expressed. “It’s truly been a team effort here.”

The Summer Academy worked with Robert Gorman, PCSD Nutrition Services Supervisor, to provide free breakfast and lunch to every child. The program had other community partners including Recovery Resources, Spice Field Kitchen and Junior Achievement.

“The community has really stepped up and supported our program by making donations and helping us with PBIS incentives as well,” Keating described. “We had 15-20 local businesses step up providing our students with things like mini-golf passes and ice cream.”

The program had two home liaisons on staff to help with student needs and transitioning, as for some students, it was their first time back in a school setting with other students since COVID-19.

“It’s also been really nice to see students from other buildings interreacting with each other because they wouldn’t otherwise have this opportunity during the school year,” Kokley said. “They are not just getting these important academics and enrichment, but also forming friendships and bonds with others.”

“We just want to encourage our students to learn and have fun,” she added. “We want them to enjoy coming back to school and be confident. I’m grateful that I work in a district that does everything it can to do what’s best for kids.”