116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Davina Dickens is getting ready to “take flight” when she enters fourth grade this fall at Prairie Hill Elementary.
Dickens, 9, is one of 170 students enrolled in the College Community School District’s 12-day Flight School Summer School program.
“We want all kids to be ready to take flight when the school year starts and help fill some of those gaps due to COVID-19,” said Tracy Schipper, the district’s executive director of elementary programs.
Davina experienced “flight” this week when she used a flight simulator, provided to the students by the Civil Air Patrol.
“I crashed,” Davina said.
Davina also is enjoying the reading, writing and math that’s part of the summer program, even though she was “really nervous” for the first day of summer school Monday. But she said she quickly made friends and is now having fun, along with learning.
The program is funded with about $100,000 from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.
Students in the program — first- through sixth-graders — attend school four days a week and get free transportation, breakfast and lunch during the program, which runs July 12 to July 30.
District educators looked at student assessment scores and invited students who might be having difficulty with reading and math to participate in the summer program.
Although they don’t expect students to make significant gains in only three weeks, they do hope to prevent student summer learning loss.
Kendra Hanzlik, summer school coordinator and instructional coach at Prairie Hill Elementary, said teachers took a “proactive” approach during the 2020-21 school year — some of it delivered virtually during the pandemic — by teaching the most important skills and working to cement them.
Hanzlik hopes summer school will continue to shore up math and reading skills, in particular, and prepare children for school this fall.
Leah White, a sixth-grade social studies and literacy teacher at Prairie Creek Intermediate, signed up to teach summer classes, even after an exhausting year spent navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
In White’s class Tuesday, students were learning about momentum and gravity by building roller coasters out of construction paper.
“I live for teaching,” White said. “I tell my students at the beginning of every school year that ‘You’re my kids, and you’ll be my kids for life.’ ”
Though she only has three weeks to do it, White said she’s working to build relationships with her students quickly, so they feel comfortable and confident, ready to learn.
Jenna Conway, who teaches kindergarten at Prairie Heights Elementary, said she signed on when she learned some of her students from the 2020-21 school year had enrolled.
Her goal, she said, is to continue building relationships with students and expand their social skills.
Cindy Bennett, a kindergarten teacher at Prairie Ridge Elementary, said her goal is to prevent “summer slide” — the loss of academic skills over summer break.
Bennett said she’s really enjoying teaching STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, art and math — with hands-on projects.
“They are engaged and love to create,” she said.
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