GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — The Summer Learning Academy prompted by the Memphis Shelby County Schools is an opportunity for students to work on academics during the summer to offset the number of students held back in the coming years.
The program instructs students through math, English, art, reading and physical fitness. Kirsten Wright is a student in the program who said it is a fun way for her to keep up with her academics while still getting to be with her friends.
“I learn how to do a lot of stuff,” Wright said. “I learn, I have fun, we play games, we do R-T-I. R-T-I is where you go on your device and do iReady. iReady is like a learning program through the screen.”
Wright said she thinks the program will really help her prepare for next year when she’s in middle school.
“I think it really does [help] because we’re reviewing some of this stuff to refresh our minds because you know I’m going to middle school and middle school is sometimes gonna review what you have learned in elementary school,” Wright said.
Crystal Travis, the Germantown Elementary School Assistant Principal and Summer Learning Academy Site Administrator at the school explains the program exists to provide additional learning opportunities during the summer.
“The district has noticed that kids experience learning loss those two months that they’re off outside of the regular school year,” Travis said. “So, they implemented this just to give them additional learning opportunities to add a little fun in there as well.”
Kimberly Clayton is a speech and language therapist and is working as a speech teacher for students with learning disabilities, development delays and Individualized Education Plans.
“Every student get’s different services based on what they need,” Clayton said. “We’re just working on trying to elicit any language, any speech and however I have to do that, I mean – I’ll stand on my head if I have to.”
Lillian Krull is one of Clayton’s students and she is autistic. Lillian’s dad says the program is not a regular program, in the best possible way.
“They call it speech therapy but really she has a ton of fun,” Krull said. “[Lillian] has a ton of fun – she comes back and she says we got to play these games and we learned to work on this and she checked to make sure I was keeping up with my reading. I don’t know I think it’s as much fun for the teachers as it is for the students, but [Lillian] actually looks forward to it.”
Krull said one of the best parts of the program for him is how helpful the teachers are with working parents. He said they have been “extremely beneficial” and flexible when he must travel to other cities and states for work.
“It’s like all the benefits of a private school in the public school system,” Krull.
More than 50 percent of Memphis Shelby County Schools’ second grade students were encouraged to take summer classes to prevent being held back but many did not enroll. Teachers in the Summer Learning Academy are hopeful students sign up for the program during the fall and spring break options as the program is free, fun and provides breakfast and lunch.