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Summer school successful

The Kiwanis-sponsored program registered 50 students for its first year


Photo Credit: KEVIN SPERL - Gabby Wood, right, and Jaz Petty, center, are deeply focused while enjoying a movie and some popcorn on the last day of the Kiwanis Summer School at Cecil Sly on Thursday, Aug. 14. Haley Nelson, on her back, takes a more relaxed stance.

Kellie Koch’s goal for this year’s Kiwanis-sponsored summer school was simple — avoid the “summer slide.”

Koch, lead teacher for the school, met with the Kiwanis Club last Thursday to report on the success of the recently ended summer school program, telling them that the remedial-based session for reading and math met her expectations.

“When we looked at our data I saw what I expected,” she told the club members assembled for their regular Thursday meeting at Meadow Lakes Golf Course. “We did not see a big increase in academic growth, but our students didn’t lose ground either. This is a success for any summer school,” said Koch.

Kiwanian Wayne Looney’s mission to hold summer school in Prineville started back in February when he approached the Crook County School Board with $20,000 of Kiwanis-sponsored funds to start a summer school program.

“Reading is the most important tool for learning,” said the retired high school teacher to the board last winter. “If students get behind in that skill set, they are at risk as they move through the educational system.”

Looney aggressively marketed the school, registering 50 students and attracting two quality teachers -- Koch, Title I teacher for Crooked River Elementary, and Jordyn Cristiano, the district’s math interventionist.

He also established a partnership with Ashley Thrasher at the Crook County Kid’s Club, enabling students to remain at Cecil Sly for the afternoon. Looney also partnered with the free summer meal program, courtesy of the school district, ensuring that students were fed breakfast and lunch.

Now that the inaugural year is complete, Looney was looking for positive results, something he hopes to use as a fund raising tool for future summer sessions.

So, it was with great appreciation that Looney introduced Koch to the membership.

“The most important element in any educational setting is the instructor,” he said. “Kellie is a prime example of a teacher that has been here for some time and given us a chance to be successful. She and Jordyn did it all. After they came on board, I stepped away and let them do their thing.”

Koch told the membership that students in grades Kindergarten through third attended the school, with Koch teaching reading and Cristiano providing math instruction.

“We also had three educational adult assistants, who work as Title 1 aides during the regular school year, and two high school aides,” she said. “That assistance allowed us to teach in smaller groups.”

During the enrollment process, Koch targeted students that she termed “strategic,” those she felt were right on the cusp of meeting their grade standard and would benefit the most from remedial help.

Measuring student progress was an important component of the school, and Koch explained that students were tested at the beginning, middle and end of the summer.

“I will tell you that we didn’t see a huge increase in academic progress,” she said. “Most improved a little bit, but, more importantly, we didn’t see anyone fall behind as they would have if they came back in the fall without summer help.”

Koch was pleased to report that growth in reading proficiency was shown by 92 percent of kindergartners, 70 percent of first-graders, 89 percent of second-graders and 64 percent of third. For math proficiency, 60 percent of kindergartners, 75 percent of first-graders, 56 percent of second and 31 percent of third showed improvement. Of those that did not show measurable improvement, the majority were able to maintain their readiness levels, with a small percentage showing negative declines.

“I can’t stress enough how excited I am to see these kids move forward and start September right where they left off, or slightly ahead of where they were last June,” she said, adding that she hopes this is a trend she can continue next summer.

“The gap would otherwise just keep widening each year, and teachers would spend so much time getting students back to where they were the previous year,” she added.

When asked how parents received the summer school effort, Koch said that overall attendance was good, with only five students not meeting the 90 percent attendance requirement.

Looney explained that students enrolled in the free lunch program paid a deposit of $50, while all others paid $100.

“Any student that exceeded the 90 percent attendance threshold got their deposit back,” he added.

Koch noted that if the program is continued next summer, she would hope to start the registration process earlier, establish a single deposit amount for all students and, most importantly, shorten the summer term from eight weeks to five.

Koch ended her presentation by expressing her gratitude to the Kiwanis Club for funding the school.

“It is really refreshing to have an organization come in and value summer education,” she said. “I really appreciate it.”



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