Over the past four weeks, Ohio County school officials have worked to support the academic needs of hundreds of students enrolled in the county's summer school program, which concludes today.
"We want to provide them with a positive educational experience," said Steenrod Elementary Principal Dan Coram, who oversees the summer program.
Coram said the month-long summer school helps students make a smoother transition to the next grade level.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Kindergarten student Amelia Parsons, right, participates in a counting exercise during summer school classes at Middle Creek Elementary.
"Students that struggle academically throughout the course of the year are targeted for this particular summer school program - and it's invaluable because we don't want the children to get behind with academics," Coram added.
He said Ohio County uses a three-tier benchmark program that runs throughout the traditional school year and helps school officials evaluate and target students who may benefit from the summer school program.
"Parents are actually partners with us. ... They actually can see what we're doing with the students throughout the course of the year ... and then we hit mid-year, about our second benchmark, and we look real hard at those particular students," said Coram. "We have specialized teachers, highly qualified teachers who come in and work with these students, and we try to make it where it is exciting for the kids."
Coram said while teachers concentrate on academics, they want the students' entire experience to be a positive one. And while they cover several different subjects at the grade school level, they primarily focus on reading and math skills. He noted the program also provides a faculty member who offers computer technical support.
Kindergarten teacher Cheryl Williams said the staff members do their best to keep the students interested by providing a variety of fun activities in addition to academics.
"We treat it like camp," Williams said. She said they are holding a "Jam Session Day" today so the children can enjoy some music, singing and dancing.
Coram said more than 200 students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade, including special education students, attend summer classes at Middle Creek and Madison Elementary schools, while more than 300 high school and junior high school students attend summer classes at Wheeling Park High School.
"Something like this is invaluable because the talk now is about year-round schooling and things of that nature. ... I think students lose a lot when they're off five or six weeks throughout the summer, whereas the programs such as the ones we're running with reading and math, the gains are invaluable for these students when they come back to school. They have not really lost anything," Coram added.
Coram said students from all over Ohio County attend the summer school session, with nearly 25 school buses running to accommodate their transportation needs. Additionally, Coram said the school provides a free breakfast, and the students get a lunch break.