WJCC Schools gear up for summer school, helping students get ahead for next year

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WJCC Public Schools included three more summer school sites and transportation for high schoolers to serve more students this year. (Courtesy of Unsplash)

WJCC PUBLIC SCHOOLS — The academic school year may be over for most, but some students and teachers are taking the summer to get work done before the next school year begins. 

Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools’ (WJCC) summer school program is running from July 6 to August 5, with several changes to the program. 

Instead of operating out of three school sites, this year will use six. 

According to Steve Legawiec, coordinator of the school system’s K-12 social studies program and head of this year’s summer school program, about 920 students are participating. According to a Mar. 19 release from WJCC, the 2019 summer program served 825 students.  

About 125 teachers are staffing the summer program, with 63 teachers working on the Elementary School levels. 

“One concern we had during last school year was whether we would have enough staff for the summer,” Legawiec said. “Our teachers went above and beyond last year, and naturally there was some burnout, but we managed to get enough staff.”

And while students were previously selected for the summer program based on academic achievement, this year’s students were chosen based on multiple criteria, including attendance and whether teacher’s expressed concern over social and emotional well-being. 

Building up social and emotional skills has been brought to the forefront of the current summer programming by intentionally weaving in teamwork, peer conversations, and problem-solving. 

For example, summer school staff will include school counselors at each site and create daily schedules that intentionally have time for social-emotional instruction to strengthen students’ self-regulation and school readiness skills.

At the higher levels of middle schools, students will start their day with remediation in Math and English Language Arts, proceeded by a midday block for social emotional learning and enrichment. The day will end with real world experiences that build on math and ELA skills to prepare them for the coming school year.

High school students, though, will have the opportunity to enroll in courses for recovery or acceleration. This year, high school recovery courses will be supplemented by teacher-led, small group skill instruction to address students’ individual needs.

“We have them doing college and career exploration and mindfulness, and that’s intentionally woven in to prepare them for the next course in life,” Legawiec said. 

Students in grades 9-12 also have the opportunity for accelerated learning by taking a summer course in either physical fitness or personal finance. 

But will one summer be enough to get students back on track after a tumultuous year? 

Legawiec said the summer program does bring in students who may need extra assistance.

Summer school is seen as a way for students to better prepare for the coming school year, rather than trying to recover from last year,” Legawiec said. “We’re excited to once again be partnering with local groups like TNCC and New Horizons to bring in new opportunities for our students and get them prepared for next year.”

This year, transportation will be available for elementary, middle, and high school students. Click here to locate your child’s bus. 

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