More than 1,500 children will take part in summer school classes

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 25, 2014 

More than 1,500 students will be served at the Merced City School District’s Summer Learning Academy at Burbank, Sheehy and Tenaya schools.

The half-day classes will stress reading and mathematics fluency, and will expose students to use of Google’s Chromebooks and some of the techniques to be employed in new Common Core instructional practices.

Elena Castro, the district’s director of categorical compliance, said about 2,800 applications have been sent from schools for student participation in the five-week summer school and about 60 teachers have applied for 50 teaching slots. Summer school teachers will be selected at the end of the month.

Aaron Alexander and Diane Shaw will be co-principals at Luther Burbank Elementary, Juanita Pedrozo and Josy Pulido at Margaret Sheehy Elementary, and Dawn Walker and Rick Her at Tenaya Middle School, Castro said.

The summer session runs from June 16 through July 18.

Along with the Summer Learning Academy, the district also will offer its extended-year program for special education students, according to Teresa Saldivar-Morse, the district’s director of special education. The district has been offering this program for many years, with funding from the state.

About 40 students will participate in the 19-day special education program, taught by three teachers and three special education aides. This program is offered for first- through eighth-graders June 16 to July 11 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at Sheehy school. A morning meal will be provided.

Annie Dossetti, assistant superintendent for educational services, said the Summer Learning Academy puts the brakes on learning loss that traditionally takes place in the summer while school is out.

The summer program will involve 32 students per grade level. Dossetti said the new technology will be secondary to concepts and skills. Teachers will practice monitoring of student progress and assessment tools that are part of the Common Core program.

In mid-January, the Board of Education approved summer plans and the expenditure of more than $300,000 for the program. Last year’s summer classes involved about 350 students.

In the special education extended-year program, Saldivar-Morse said, teachers will keep working on the individual education plans written for each student.

She praised the UC Merced Cooperative Extension program and the 4-H program that conducts “Friends Helping Friends” at the Merced County Fair. Special-needs students are given tours of fair activities such as the petting zoo and eagerly anticipate those programs, Saldivar-Morse said.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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