Nearly 600 students will fight summer learning loss this year through a partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County and the local school systems.
The groups will pool resources to provide a traditional summer camp paired with educational programing, with the goal of helping students hold onto what they learned this year in the classroom.
“As we do their benchmark or their pretest at the beginning of the year, we hope that they will begin where they ended as far as skill level and that we won’t experience that summer loss,” said Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merriane Dyer.
The partnership will serve students at two separate locations.
All students enrolled in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ eight-week summer camp will begin their days with two hours of educational programing at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School before continuing their day at the Boys & Girls Clubs center.
Gainesville City Schools teachers aided by students from Brenau University and Piedmont College will run the classes, which will be focused on hands-on learning, Dyer said.
In the past, the district has only provided summer school for third-, fifth- and eight-graders who do not pass the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests as well as high school students who need help preparing for the state’s graduation exam.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs, they had recreational programs, leadership development, service learning projects. They wanted to put in an academic component,” Dyer said. “We got together and said what if we combined our programs for part of the day. We could do an academic component and then you could have the students for the rest of the day.”
The second program will take place over four weeks at Hall County School System’s Lyman Elementary School.
There, 220 of the school’s most in-need students will be given three and a half hours of educational instruction and three and a half hours of traditional summer camp activities.
“These are all targeted students, so we’re certainly hoping this will make a major impact with language acquisition in particular with the summer school activity,” said principal Lois Myers.
“And then to be able to combine that with... all of the things that the Boys & Girls Clubs offers, it will be pretty awesome.”
Chuck Graham, unit director with the Boys & Girls Clubs, said the organization has provided summer instruction on a smaller scale in the past but this partnership offers the opportunity to serve a larger group.
“We felt like to really make an impact, let’s partner with the schools and just make it full circle,” he said. “Because the schools have a better idea of exactly what the kids need to work on and what action plan we can put in place to help that child.”
Graham said the organization will track test scores next year for all of the Lyman Elementary students and 150 kids served at Fair Street.
He’s hopeful the numbers will show that summer classes curb summer learning loss.
“We’ve looked at statistics over the past of our organization, tracking the grades, and we saw a distinct gap at the beginning of the school system, that first grading program,” he said. “And I think it’s directly related to what the kids do over the summer.”