Pickerington Schools summer program to include boot camps, interest-based courses

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Sabrina Woodruff, Pickerington Schools chief academic officer

Pickerington Schools students who need to make up classes they failed or who want help for certain subjects again will have the option of summer school programs but with additional twists.  

New this year will be "boot camps" for students who want refreshers on certain subjects and "interest-based camps," which are one-week camps developed by teachers that highlight learning in specific areas.   

"Before, we've been really intentional about the selection of students for summer learning," said Sabrina Woodruff, the district's chief academic officer. "It was by invitation and participation was typically for credit recovery or, in younger grades, it was intervention and particularly for reading and math. 

"This summer, we've expanded some opportunities so they're available to all students." 

All the programs and camps will be offered in person at district school buildings by district teachers and staff.  

With the exception of physical education for students entering eighth through 12th grades, the summer programs won't enable students to earn additional credits.  

The classes will allow them to catch up on a credit they failed to earn during the school year or better prepare students for subject or subject areas for the 2021-22 year.  

Treasurer Ryan Jenkins said the district has been allocated approximately $4.18 million through various federal relief packages and has been informed by the Ohio Department of Education that it will be allocated about $6.23 million in additional funds.  

He said the district expects to spend approximately $3.7 million of those funds on "summer school programming and/or extended school day/year programming between the summer of 2021 through the summer of 2024." 

The money will be used to provide transportation to students to and from the summer programs, to purchase supplies and materials for them and to compensate camp instructors, Woodruff said. 

"That's how we're able to offer those additional learning opportunities and provide transportation to those programs," she said. "No student is going to have to pay any sort of fee, except for the one program that is physical education for new credit."   

The number of teachers and staff who will be working this summer still was being determined as of April 20, district officials said.  

Those decisions will affect what interest-based camps will be available; a list will be provided when registration is opened in the near future, according to the district's website.  

"Each teacher that teaches will be paid his/her per-diem rate of pay computed as hourly pay," Jenkins said. "If a teacher makes $400 per day, that teacher will be paid $50 per hour for summer school teaching.  

"Non-teaching staff – parapros, duty aides, etc. – will also be paid their normal hourly rate." 

Most of the credit-recovery and intervention programs will begin June 1, with others starting June 7.  

While interest-based camps are still being developed, a list of credit-recovery, intervention and boot camp offerings are listed on the district's website at pickerington.k12.oh.us/summer-learning-opportunities-2020-21/.  

They include:  

• K-4 and 5-8 intervention, by invitation only, for English language arts and math to address learning loss and target specific sill gaps. 

• K-4 boot camp, open to all students, to review essential understandings and priority standards in ELA and math to help prepare them for the next sequence of instruction.  

• Grade 3 ELA Bridge, by invitation only, for third-grade students who haven't met the promotion criteria for reading.  

• 5-8 boot camp, open to all students, to review essential understandings and priority standards in ELA, math and/or science.  

• Junior High Integrated Science Bridge, by invitation only, for Virtual Learning Academy students who weren't able to take Advanced Science 7/8.   

• Junior High Algebra I Bridge, by invitation only, for VLA students who weren't able to take Advanced Math 7/8.  

• 9-12 Summer Academy, by invitation only, for students who need to re-take a previously failed course. Course offerings include algebra I, geometry, algebra II, math 4, ELA 9-12, integrated science and biology.  

• 9-12 summer boot camp, open to all students, to review the essential understandings and priority standards from a course taken in 2020-21. Course offerings include algebra I, geometry, algebra II, ELA 9, ELA 10, integrated science, biology and chemistry. Camps run for two weeks and students may participate in up to two sessions. 

• Ohio State Test Intervention, by invitation only, for high school students retaking algebra I and/or ELA II Ohio state tests. Students will participate in targeted intervention test-taking strategies.   

• Rising Freshman, by invitation only, a math-intervention program for incoming high school freshmen. Students will participate in learning activities that address learning loss and target students’ specific skill gaps.  

"At each grade level, we are consistent with ongoing intervention programs," Woodruff said. "We're referring to those as 'academies,' and they are our traditional intervention programs.  

"The new programs are what we're referring to as 'boot camps.' They are refresher courses, and they are going to highlight essential understandings of specific courses and any student can attend."  

As for the interest-based camps, Woodruff said officials are in the process of determining how many programs can be offered based on teachers and staff members who have expressed interest in leading them. 

"Teachers are really designing their own interest-based camps," she said. "It could be for anything from creative writing to art to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to a specific science." 

Cathy Olshefski, a member of the school board, said she's "elated" the district can offer credit-recovery and intervention over the summer to students who need it, particularly because of the impact the pandemic has had on teaching and learning.  

She said she's "even more excited" about the potential the boot camps and interest-based camps have for the future.  

"They're just another opportunity for our kids to remain engaged and involved over the summer months," Olshefski said. "I'm really excited about what the future holds for these general summer learning opportunities.  

"It's just good for our kids, and I really hope in the next few years, we can mold and shape and craft a slate of summer learning opportunities. It keeps our kids engaged and interested in the love of learning and I think the sky is the limit."  

Brittany Cappa, whose son, Jace, will be an eighth-grader at Lakeview Junior High School in 2021-22, said she's impressed by how the district has responded to the pandemic, in general, and expanding the summer learning programs is another way the district is doing a good job for students and parents.  

While her son doesn't need intervention, she said she's excited that there will be opportunities for in-person instruction this summer. 

"When he was in elementary school, they had opportunities like this for math and reading classes in the summer," Cappa said. "It was a fun way of reading or doing math and he seemed to enjoy it.  

"Now there's going to be a lot more being offered in different grades and I love that I could sit down with him and he could go through and say, 'I might be interested in this.' I definitely think this would be beneficial for my son."  

nellis@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNate