School may have been out, but summer learning continued for Davie students thanks to the Mebane Foundation. More than 180 rising kindergarteners through 5th graders attended summer programs funded by a $122,000 grant from the Foundation.
“Students missed months of face-to-face instruction this spring due to coronavirus restrictions and are heading into an uncertain school year this fall,” said Larry Colbourne, president of the Foundation. “It was important to the Foundation to support enrichment opportunities to help reduce learning loss. Normally those funds supplement state funding for Davie’s summer Read to Achieve Camp; but since the Department of Instruction canceled that requirement for this summer, the money was available to fund other programs.”
Jennifer Lynde, Davie County Schools chief academic officer, appreciated the Foundation’s flexibility. “We are in very difficult times that require us to adapt and make decisions, unlike any in the past. The support of the Mebane Foundation allows us to make decisions better aligned with the needs of children and not strictly funding.”
Putting the Plan for Continued Learning Into Action
Davie County Schools (DCS) reallocated the funds towards five-week summer enrichment camps for rising 1st through 5th graders at Cooleemee and Cornatzer, since they were the sites of the summer feeding program and kinder camps for rising kindergarteners at all six elementary schools.
Colbourne put her in touch with Imprints Cares in Winston Salem, which offers kindergarten readiness programs for children ages birth to five and expanded learning programs, including summer enrichment day camps, for elementary school students. Since Imprints Cares already had a curriculum in place for its summer camps in Forsyth County as well as social distancing and cleaning protocols developed through offering crisis childcare, he thought they would be the perfect partner to operate an enrichment camp in Davie County.
DCS and Imprints Cares had only three weeks to prepare. DCS contacted the students and Imprints Cares provided all logistics including hiring, curriculum, before and after camp care, and day-to-day management.
A Typical Day of Continued Summer Learning
Half of the day was devoted to academics — math, writing, reading, and phonics using Heggerty, a phonemic-awareness program that aligns with the science of reading. The other half focused on STEAM-based enrichment activities incorporating math, science, reasoning, and logic.
Additionally, campers enjoyed three onsite field trips: Birds of Prey from Allison Outdoor Wilderness Center, a robotics camp by Bricked where students assembled and maneuvered Lego-based remote-controlled cars, and an outdoor fun day complete with a drenching courtesy of the Cooleemee and Cornatzer fire departments.
“We wanted there to be social-emotional interaction, academics, and just some good old-fashioned summer camp fun,” Shannon Heck, Imprint Cares director development and marketing explained.
Crystal Phillips, a 1st/2nd grade teacher’s assistant at Pinebrook Elementary, taught the math component at Cornatzer. She considered the camp to be extremely valuable for the students who participated. “We all know that children tend to backslide in the summer months from one grade to the next. I feel these kids, and most of the others at home, have more so this year than prior summers because of the last quarter being taught remotely.”
Kinder Camp Goals
The kinder camps had a different set of goals — teaching rising kindergarteners how to social distance, wash their hands, treat others the way they would want to be treated, and most importantly become comfortable with the school setting.
“The purpose of kinder camp is to get the children acclimated to school,” says kindergarten teacher Julie Holt, who led camp at Pinebrook Elementary. “They get the chance to learn to get along and to socialize which benefits them a lot. They also learn how to get around the school so that they aren’t scared. We talk a lot about what the first day will be like so that they will be more comfortable with it. If they are more comfortable with it, their parents are going to be more comfortable with it.”
“Although I do at least one academic activity each day, I focus more on getting them socially ready to enter the kindergarten world. If you can get them socially and behaviorally ready, the academic piece will come.”
Holt told the students that each of them was special and unique and had their own name which was made up of letters. Pointing to a whiteboard bearing each name, she helped them count the letters, then they traced their names on paper using bingo daubers.
“Kinder camp gives us the opportunity to bond with our students and to instill in them the love of learning and a love for school. I think it is a fabulous thing that we can offer this camp and we appreciate it,” she told Colbourne with a smile.
Thanks to Jeanna Baxter White for providing this article, Summer Learning Continued for Davie Students Thanks to the Mebane Foundation. The article, along with much more, can be found in the August 2020 edition of DavieLiFE magazine.