How Glenbard District 87 is thinking differently about summer school this year

  • David F. Larson, Superintendent, Glenbard Township High School District 87

    David F. Larson, Superintendent, Glenbard Township High School District 87

 
 
Updated 4/14/2021 4:04 PM

The effects of the pandemic have had an impact on everyone, none greater than our community's greatest investment: our students. This past year's journey has challenged and stretched each developing and maturing adolescent academically, socially and emotionally.

Our talented teachers and staff have been flexible, resourceful and worked tirelessly to address each student's needs. Yet we know that regardless when the pandemic ends, we will need to provide comprehensive and customized support.

 

A key aspect of this work under way is the development of a robust and authentic free summer school program, funded through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Fund (ESSER II) program.

Leveraging the summer months will be critical in normalizing each student's academic strength, daily routine, personal confidence, as well important peer and adult relationships.

Glenbard's annual summer school programming, typically attended by 2,400 students, includes credit recovery courses, bridge classes and credit courses to accelerate. Planning for this summer; however, is unique. We anticipate this summer to be our largest summer program ever, with more students enrolling each day as we approach our May 1 deadline.

The following are key aspects that are being integrated into our planning:

• We avoid phrases such as "learning loss," "student deficits" and "remedial needs" as these tend to label students negatively and erode their confidence. Statements centered on building a positive mindset will lead to a student's personal and academic success.

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• We have designed new enrichment courses to help students sharpen skills in argumentative writing and several levels of math.

• Many of our courses are offered with both in-person and remote learning opportunities to maximize participation of all students.

• Paramount, will be designed learning activities that are meaningful, authentic and challenging. Tedious tasks requiring redundant skill practice or rote memorization will not be effective and should be avoided.

• Recognizing and honoring each student's perseverance and resilience as they have navigated through this difficult year will be a necessary foundational beginning point.

• Assessing a student's strengths and abilities, along with growth areas, is important in building ownership of their academic success.

• We will carefully assess what students need socially and emotionally, not just what is academically important. This often requires intentionally reaching out to parents and guardians to listen and understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• We will structure effective individual and small group tutoring sessions, which will be interactive and student-centered.

Our teachers' instruction focuses on the six qualities in our "Profile of a Graduate" that we want each of our graduates to have.

These traits include: communicates, collaborates, thinks critically, embraces diversity, creates, and is self-empowered.

The competency "Is Self-Empowered" states, "Students will employ a growth mindset that includes self-regulation, motivation, and resiliency."

The customized opportunities noted above will enable students to become more self-empowered and supported along the way.

Historically, previous generations have helped shape our great country through periods of hardship and difficulty, including the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, and the Civil Rights era.

I am confident that our amazing students, as we intentionally guide and support them in the coming months, will be our models of resiliency, perseverance and resolve.

In addition to learning content, our students have gained critical skills, including communication, collaboration, grit and technology skills. I am confident in their abilities and optimistic about their future.

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