Home Waynesboro Schools create plan for enriching summer program

Waynesboro Schools create plan for enriching summer program

Rebecca Barnabi

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Waynesboro Public SchoolsWAYNESBORO — Summer programming at Waynesboro Schools for 2021 will provide additional classroom instruction for students in the River City who struggled with virtual learning during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Waynesboro Schools’ Summer Enrichment Academy will consist of two three-week sessions for elementary, middle and high school students.

“I think it’s that unfinished learning idea,” said Tim Teachey, Waynesboro Schools’ Executive Director of Instruction.

Waynesboro Schools staff and teachers hope that the summer program will fill in the gaps virtual learning left for some students in the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We were able to cover the curriculum,” Teachey said, but at a quicker pace.

According to Teachey, Waynesboro teachers identified 10 Standards of Learning for the summer program to revisit with students.

“It’s going to be very much project-based learning,” he said.

Students will have opportunities to work together and learn at the elementary and middle school levels.

“We want to get back to that idea kids learn best from each other,” Teachey said.

Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell said at the April 13 regular school board meeting that students who performed least successfully at virtual learning were invited to participate in the summer academy.

“The students were invited based on who was identified as most at risk,” Cassell told the school board last week.

Teachey told the school board that while students attending summer school typically are able to advance an academic grade level, the Summer Enrichment Academy will enable students to maintain their current grade level.

For example, a student who is in the 4th grade when summer begins will remain in 4th grade for the summer program.

CARES Act funding will pay personnel salaries for the summer academy, according to Teachey, which includes two teachers per grade level.

The first session for elementary students will be June 7 to 24 at Wenonah and William Perry Elementary schools, and the second session is scheduled for July 6 to 22 at Berkeley Glenn and Westwood Hills Elementary schools.

Students at the elementary school level will participate in class instruction Mondays-Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch, then the YMCA “comes in with their staff.”

Teachey said that while the students are with the YMCA staff either at a Waynesboro school or the YMCA, YMCA Executive Director Jeff Fife will coordinate programming involving exercise, fun, fitness and nutrition.

“The elementary [level] has been the most labor intensive [to plan],” Teachey said, because more students are involved, as well as partnerships with the Waynesboro YMCA and The Wayne Theatre.

Elementary students will have opportunities in the afternoons to learn about storytelling, acting, singing and theater from The Wayne Theatre.

“This is not something we haven’t done before. We just haven’t done on this scale,” Teachey said of the 2021 summer program.

In previous years, 20 students would participate in summer classes at Wenonah Elementary School and then 20 more students Kate Collins Middle School.

This year, 120 students have signed up for each of the elementary level sessions.

Waynesboro’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will attend academic instruction for about 90 minutes every morning Mondays-Thursdays during either the June 7 to 24 or July 6 to 22 session at Kate Collins Middle School.

In the afternoon, summer academy students will learn about science and writing by working at the Alleghany Mountain Institute farm created at Berkeley Glenn Elementary or the community garden planted at Kate Collins Middle with funding by an Extended Year grant.

“They’re going to actually get their hands dirty and do some work,” Teachey said, for another 90 minutes.

Lastly, YMCA staff will either come to the middle school or students will go to the YMCA for activities about nutrition and exercise.

Waynesboro High School students will have the opportunity for credit recovery from June 7 to July 16 during 90-minute sessions. Morning and evening sessions will be virtual, but mid-day sessions will provide in-person instruction.

Teachey said that he has been impressed with Waynesboro Schools teachers during the planning process of the academy.

Waynesboro teachers helped to identify students who would benefit from the summer programming because they had no in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 academic year or did not perform well with virtual learning.

Teachers in each grade level gathered to determine which students were most at risk, then their families were contacted and the students were invited to participate.

“It just can’t be a completely open situation,” Teachey said of participation because staffing is limited.

However, some families have called and requested students participate.

“We’ve not had to turn people away,” Teachey said, and added that that was directed by Cassell.

Most would have expected after having taught an academic year virtually during a pandemic, that teachers would want a break this summer.

“I’ve just been impressed with their willingness to jump back in,” Teachey said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.