"Summer School" is a concept that for some conjures images of struggling or disengaged students battling through sweltering summer days in a school library who are trying to convince the assigned school teacher that there was just enough remediation work completed to replace a sub par grade. Granted, that is a likely reality in a minority of circumstances, but summer school has become so much more. One must remember, during the summer, the vast majority of summer students are choosing to spend their fleeting vacation days intentionally in a classroom.
In contrast to the teaching and learning environment during the traditional school calendar so strongly influenced by outside factors, summer school remains something of a academic laboratory for teachers and students alike. While the expectation of learning and excellence doesn't rest in the summer, there is an opportunity to try something new, expand or improve past practice, experiment with current technologies, and attempt to connect to and build upon academic interests with less fear of embarrassment if all doesn't go as hoped. It has become an environment where failure is recognized as an element of learning and an unavoidable side effect of the pursuit of innovation and experimentation. The result is an increased willingness among students to engage and explore and for teachers to offer newly-created classes and learning opportunities .
Already this summer, through the coordination of our district summer school program, one that has expanded from three weeks to twelve over the last five years based on the ever-increasing student interest and participation, I have witnessed the enthusiasm of our students as they have explored interests ranging from the staples of reading and math to the enrichment opportunities of health and wellness classes, band, agriculture, robotics, graphic design, and video game creation with so much more yet to come. I am proud of our students and teachers for their enthusiasm for learning, exploring, attempting, designing, and engaging.