Summer Bridge Program lets teachers, students make up for lost time

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

The first session of the Summer Bridge Program, an in-person summer school designed to recover the education lost when school buildings across Ohio were closed last year during the early days the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, is wrapping up at four Hilliard City Schools buildings – and administrators have plans to continue it in the future.

The first session began June 7 and concludes June 18; a second session is being offered July 19-30.

The Summer Bridge Program is led by Hilliard teachers for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, said Cori Kindl, executive director of K-12 curriculum for Hilliard City Schools.

The Hilliard City Schools Central Office is at 2140 Atlas St. in Columbus.

When rolled out, the program was designed to accommodate up to 1,350 students in kindergarten to fifth grade and up to 720 students in sixth to eighth grades who elected to enroll, but those thresholds were not reached.

Before start of the first session, 1,247 kindergarten to fifth-grade students and 347 sixth- to eighth-grade students were divided over the two sessions, according to Stacie Raterman, director of communications for the district.

“All the students who applied before the deadline got into the program,” which is being provided at no fee to the student’s families, Raterman said.

The students are enrolled for both sessions, according to Raterman.

The teachers and other staff members providing the program are being compensated with federal grants the district received for COVID-19 relief, she said.

The Summer Bridge Program seeks to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways, Kindl said.

“Other than the classes that will target academic interventions, the Bridge program will offer classes geared toward students' interests in such areas as art, coding, music and STEM,” she said. “We want to make sure that our programming is inclusive of all our kids and that we are intentionally meeting all of the different needs that kids may have as a result of the pandemic.”

Classes for students in kindergarten to fifth grade are provided at Beacon, Horizon and Crossing elementary schools; classes for students in sixth to eighth grades are at the Hub on the Innovation Campus.

Transportation and lunches are provided.

A third component of the Summer Bridge Program offers further virtual online instruction for students in grades 9 to 12.

It is also is being provided in two sessions, the first of which concluded June 11. The other two-week session ends June 25.

Kerry Beth Bryant, whose 9- and 12-year-old sons are rising fourth- and seventh-graders, said the Summer Bridge Program is a benefit.

Bryant said she also has two grandsons, ages 9 and 11, enrolled in the program.

Bryant said she ponders how much education her sons "lost" during the "nightmare" of remote learning as parents also worked from home and all the other disruptions the pandemic caused to public education.

"But the teachers did a fantastic job putting this together with no template," she said.

After the first two days of the program, Bryant said, her sons were eager to share what they were doing at school, which included math, particularly fractions.

"I asked (my son) what he did, and he gave me a look as if to say, 'I know math isn't supposed to be fun,' but we did fractions (and) it was fun," Bryant said.

A second phase of the Bridge program is slated to launch during the 2021-22 school year, and a third phase is planned for June 2022, Kindl said.

The second phase is being developed this summer among administrators and staff.

The evaluation of the Bridge summer school and how the district meets the needs of students during the next school year will be part of determining how the Bridge looks beyond the next school year, Kindl said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo