Cleveland schools new summer program helps kids get ahead after year of remote learning

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The Cleveland Metropolitan School District‘s new “Summer Learning Experience” is reimagining summer school while attracting substantial growth in enrollment.

“It is a full, fun experience coupled with learning,” said CMSD Chief of Schools Lisa Farmer-Cole. “It’s very different than anything we have ever done, and the community is really buzzing about this.”

During a typical year, Farmer-Cole said they have 2,000 students enrolled in summer courses, but this summer, less than one week into the launch of the program, more than 7,000 students are enrolled.

Two four-week sessions for students K-12 offer a focus on the core curriculum including language arts and math in the morning, then later classes transition to enrichment opportunities like field trips and STEM learning.

Each day ends with a camp-like experience for students who can attend or travel to internships, sports or music-based programs.

This new type of summer school is becoming reality in part because of the pandemic and learning loss as the district like many schools nationwide turned to remote instruction.

“This is an opportunity for our students to finish their learning, enrich their learning and engage their learning,” said Joey Marginian, a CMSD assistant principal and summer experience site leader.

Enrollment is at capacity at Adlai Stevenson Elementary with around 250 students enrolled for the first summer session.

“I think COVID gave us the opportunity to birth this. We have not done it before. It is truly necessary because our students lost time,” said Farmer-Cole.

Marginian said the goal is to help reduce the “summer slide,” where students can lose up to a month of knowledge gained during the school year.

“It might not be all math or all English or all the core content, but that brain is moving and working,” he said about the summer learning experience.

“It really gives kids the opportunity to explore and create, which we a lot of times don’t have time for during the typical school year,” said Colleen Ward, a teacher.

Parents can enroll their child now for the next summer session beginning July 12 and can sign up their child again, even if they are already participating in the June courses. The summer experience, transportation and meals are provided for free to CMSD students.

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