The little boy was weeping openly as his mom signed him up for the inaugural season of summer elementary school in Maple Ridge.
Kim Bondi, the school district administrator who is responsible for getting the program off the ground, and indirectly for the little guy’s perceived misfortune, consoled him.
But it won’t be all about worksheets and tests, Bondi told him. He described the “learning camp” style that local educators intend.
“It’ll be outdoors, hands-on, fun, experiential learning.”
Summer school will run for just mornings, from 9 a.m. to noon with a snack break, and will run for three weeks from July 7-24.
“He was better after I talked to him,” said Bondi, the district principal for continuing education.
Although it was a tough sell to a kid looking forward to summer vacation, the new program was immediately a hit with parents.
The original plan was to offer summer school programming at three schools, for 300 students. It was only approved by the school board four weeks ago. But 456 students have been registered.
“This is something that was absolutely needed,” said Bondi. “We’ve scaled it up. It’s been quite a response.”
Summer elementary school has been a popular offering in Vancouver and Coquitlam school districts. It is not designed to be remedial in nature like high school summer classes, but can be a preview of the next grade for some students, or review for others.
Bondi said the teachers taking part are excited about the summer classes, and it’s an opportunity for them to try some new things.
“Teach to your passion,” Bondi is telling them. “Take away the administration, and really get the kids engaged.”
Students will not be evaluated based on their achievements, but parents will get a report based more on their participation.
There will be a prep day for teachers on July 6.
There will be four elementary schools involved: Yennadon (east), Edith McDermott (west), Alouette (central) and Laityview (French Immersion).
The provincial government provides some funding on a per pupil basis, so summer school is offered to parents free of charge.
“My hope is this will be the type of experience that will leave them wanting more,” said Bondi.