Savannah-Chatham kicks off ‘Embrace Summer Learning’
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham students have been out of school for about two weeks, but some are already back to the books. This time in-person five days a week for a new program, Embrace Summer Learning.
More than 7,000 students are enrolled in the learning recovery and acceleration program.
“To me embrace learning is the opportunity to differentiate instruction for a whole district of children,” said Cassie Martinez, Summer Site Coordinator for Embrace. “To make sure that they have what they need to not only bring them up, accelerate them, but also just make sure that they’re ready for this next school year.”
At A.B. Williams Elementary School more than 260 students are back in the classroom. While it’s just a third of what they are used to they are eager to be back and learning five days a week.
“I think it’s going to be a great start,” said Susan Ambrose, Principal at A.B Williams Elementary School. “I mean I think we really had to start somewhere and the Embrace program is a great place for us to begin. For us, to really target those learning skills that the kids lost and then with the kids that are here this summer it gives us a great idea of where we need to start especially where we need to go when school starts in August.”
Staff wasn’t the only one excited to be back in-person. Just three days into the first session students say they are learning!
“We learn IReady, math, reading, science, social studies,” said Kamera & Kamari Anderson, rising 3rd graders. “About the characters, about the details, about the presidents and about adventures.”
They focus not only on learning loss, but acceleration too. Not only are they doing typical school work, but have social-emotional lessons and hands on activities. Class sizes remain small as they follow CDC guidelines and masks are required, but being back is helping the learning process.
“Our engagement is back up where we’re used to before the whole virtual process,” said William Scott, a 6th grade math teacher. “As you can see the kids love to be in a classroom. They love to have their hands-on things and you just couldn’t do that virtually so as the teachers aspect I am so glad that we are back.”
It’s because of this adjustment SCCPSS created the Embrace curriculum.
“Virtual does work for some students and they can be very successful at it,” explained Brian Dotson, Principal at Hubert Middle School. “However, a lot of our students here at Hubert Middle School do need that in-person, that person to person, one-on-one attention of a teacher to help them along especially in the areas of reading and mathematics.”
The new program tracks students knowledge and uses specialized instruction to help them not only recover, but advance. For younger students teachers say fine motor and social skills will be worked on but at Hubert they noticed the biggest challenges in reading and math. Mr. Scott teaches 6th grade math.
“There definitely has been a big gap during this virtual process,” said Scott.
He says there were a lot of challenges from connectivity, attendance and more. He’s glad to be back with students and building them up.
“You’re more comfortable with the areas that you’re good at,” said William Scott, an SCCPSS math teacher. “So here I focus on making sure everyone is good at math and then that confidence level goes up.”
Students say they are benefiting from not only the Embrace program, but also being back in-person.
“This environment where you come in-person it’s easier to do your own work and stuff,” said Frank Johnson. “It’s easiest to learn cause teachers they can like help you, show you stuff.”
While teachers say they will use tools from the virtual environment back in the classroom, embrace will focus not only on remediation, but also enrichment. They want to make sure students have a well rounded experience.
“It really offers both sets of students an opportunity,” said Principal Dotson. “You know to get that in-person learning for the students who struggled all school year and need that remediation that acceleration that is offered to them and for the students who did excel in the hybrid model it offers them a leg up and opportunity to get ahead for next academic year.”
Embrace runs from as early at 7:00 am until 6:00 pm with after school care and is free for those enrolled. There are two sessions scheduled to help students prepare for the incoming school year.
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