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The Livingston Union School
District is planning something entirely new this summer, a four-week program
that engages both teachers and students in different ways to learn.
The STEAM and Literacy Academy
will run June 11 to July 9 at Yamato Colony School and Livingston Middle
School. It is expected to enroll nearly 900 transitional kindergarten through
eighth grade students.
Superintendent Andres Zamora
doesn’t know of any other area school district that will offer a program like
Livingston’s. Some of the educational practices pioneered this summer will
extend into the regular school year.
“I’m very excited about this,”
Zamora said. “This is brand-new. It will be a very unique opportunity. The risk
is we’ve never done this before but the reward will be a new type of learning
never offered before.”
Thirty-seven teachers are
expected to instruct classes, which run from 8 a.m. to noon. Breakfast and
lunch will be provided.
The summer program is aimed at
students below grade level and will include foster youth, migrants and English
language learners. Some slots will be available for students just below grade
level, Zamora said.
Kuljinder Sekhon, the district’s
director of educational services, hopes teachers will find the summer program,
which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,
rewarding as well.
“The lessons are teacher-designed
and there is a lot of hands-on enriched learning,” Sekhon said. “If you walk
into the classroom, you can expect to find students doing hands-on projects,
working in groups and doing performance and visual arts. Teachers are becoming
facilitators of learning.”
Teacher Nancy Brasil said
students will have the ability to be relentless, resourceful, creative and
“I believe that learning will occur
with far greater depth and breadth, thereby increasing retention, comprehension
and academic achievement. Teachers this summer will welcome students’ attempts
to bring all reasonable solutions to the table when they are attacking
problems," Brasil said.
Brasil added she believes
by implementing the academy this summer that it will open dialogue on how the
instructional model can be brought into the regular school year and how these
traits are crucial for students.
Sekhon said the focus will be on
communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity — all hallmarks
of the new Common Core instructional standards mandated by the state.
Zamora said during development of
the Local Control Accountability Plan, participants asked for summer learning opportunities.
There was no summer school for the past three years and previous programs
stressed remedial, book-based programs.
The summer program will cost
between $200,000 and $250,000, according to Zamora.
“The community should be proud of
this,” Zamora said. “It’s an example of Livingston leading the way in the
transition to Common Core.”
Zamora said the expectation is
that students will become better speakers and better at asking questions
through their summer experiences. He also hopes the children’s curiosity will
be stimulated as they learn.
Teachers will create their own
assessments before the program starts and at the conclusion to see if students
have mastered the subjects. Students will get report cards at the end of the
summer program that show how they handled collaboration, creativity,
communication and critical thinking.
Zamora said at the end of the
summer sessions there will be a showcase day where students exhibit their
projects and learning and that could include performances.