OCEAN CITY – School may be out for summer in Worcester County, but that doesn’t mean hundreds of students across the county won’t be working overtime for a few weeks over the next couple months to improve their skills and enjoy a few of the programs offered through the Worcester County Summer Academy.
Summer school often carries with it a negative connotation, evoking images of weeks of remedial math and English while the rest of the students enjoy their freedom. Such is not the case, however, with the Worcester County Public Schools’ Summer Academy Program, which works to not only give students the chance to catch up in problem areas, but also to excel and take advantage of additional learning opportunities in the summer months.
According to Barbara Witherow, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs, “the 19-day program, is designed to improve reading and math achievement, while providing enrichment in art, music, technology, creative challenges, investigative and environmental science, and nutrition and fitness.”
The Summer Academy runs from June 23 to July 18 and is available to all students enrolled in Worcester County Public Schools, from grades pre-k through 12.
The Summer Academy Program is funded through a combination of state and federal grants and local funding, allowing schools the ability to offer the program free of charge to its students.
Roughly 1,000 students will participate in the Summer Academy this year, reported Witherow, with students set to attend the school in which they will enroll in the fall. Students will also be learning curriculum that parallels with the grade level in which they will be entering in the fall.
Providing students with curriculum corresponding with the upcoming grade level gives students a unique summer school experience.
"This look-forward approach to summer school is unique to our school system," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes. "Our objective is to focus on moving students ahead, rather than simply catching them up."
Having students attend the school in which they will enroll in the fall is also a forward approach, providing students with the opportunity to get used to a new school and faculty prior to the first day of school in the fall.
"Students become familiar with the expectations of their new grade and coursework," said Shirleen Church, Coordinator of Instruction responsible for the elementary and middle school summer programs. "Participating students feel more comfortable meeting these challenges and expectations when entering a new school or grade level in the fall."
Witherow explained that while all curriculums aligns with the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum, each school’s theme varies.
Snow Hill Middle School, Pocomoke Middle School and Berlin Intermediate School will all focus on arts immersion this summer, through the partnership of curriculum with a drama production.
"Math and reading standards will also be integrated into the drama production in an effort to enrich and increase academic achievement," said Church.
Snow Hill High School will also be implementing a drama production this summer.
Stephen Decatur High School will offer programs such as “Waves” and the “Beach and Beyond” to its students this year. “Waves”, available to 9th and 10th grade students, is designed for students who aim to improve their reading and math skills. “Beach and Beyond” consists of 16 days of multidisciplinary enrichment learning related to the land and sea and is available to grades 9 through 12.
All schools will also provide intervention programs and preparation for the High School Assessments (HSA) in English 10, algebra/data analysis, government and biology.