By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
The four-week K-8 summer camps are under way at 14 sites throughout Rutherford County.
More than 6,000 students — many of whom participated in distance learning this past year and missed out on first-person connections between students and teachers — are “working in their current grade and getting a little bridge before next year,” said Tameka Baker, site director at Blackman Elementary.
During the normal school year, Baker is an assistant principal at Blackman Elementary.
Dr. Matt Brewer added, “We really look at it as an opportunity to gain for next year.”
Brewer, the eighth-grade assistant principal at Smyrna Middle, is the site director at Blackman Middle throughout the summer program which ends June 24.
“It’s almost a month of school extra,” Brewer said.
Students will receive 90 minutes of English language arts, 90 minutes of math along with STEM, physical education, art and library time.
Teachers are using interactive techniques for the summer program to engage students.
For instance, the middle school STEM classes at Blackman will spend the entirety of the program designing a playground for special needs children.
“We’re not using textbooks that we would normally use,” Brewer said. “We’re trying to make this as not like school as possible, so the classes look different than they do during the school year. We want to keep (students) enticed and engaged in their learning.”
Teachers from throughout the county have been preparing the summer curriculum for the past few months, while finishing up the 2020-2021 school year, said Ann Haley, the elementary school coordinator for Rutherford County Schools, who added, “That’s what impressed me most.”
Haley was moved by the hugging and smiles she saw Tuesday morning.
Teachers and students alike were “super excited to be here,” said Baker, who added, “and ready to have a good time.”
“It was great,” Brewer said of the first day, “and the students were excited to be there.”
The program is another opportunity for students and teachers alike to flex their strength and stamina when it comes to education.
“I hope they are ready to start the next school year,” said Baker, who believes students participating in the summer program will have a leg up on their peers who are not participating, “and be ready for the next grade they’re going to have.”