In New Hanover County, students are invited based on test scores and performance – those considered “at risk” have the opportunity to earn credits and learn basic skills as part of the program. six weeks.
According to three women who help run it in New Hanover County – Ashley Goodlet, Kimberly Fullard and Anita Brown – so far it’s been a success. Ashley is Site Coordinator at Wrightsboro Elementary School and Kimberly and Anita are District Coordinators. When asked to explain what they were doing in the program, they all laughed.
Short version: it’s a lot of work.
Fortunately, the three coordinators have the help of their teachers. Kimberly admits that recruiting teachers was a challenge early on in the program. After battling distance learning and COVID-19, some teachers were reluctant to give up their summer.
“From our point of view, I know, it was a fight at the start. And we suggested breaking that down into sessions, because, you know, we heard a lot of teachers who didn’t want to work the full six weeks, ”Kimberly said.
Teachers were also offered incentives to work under the program in addition to their daily salary.
Kimberly said, “I think the bonuses are a huge part of it. The base price started for teachers at two thousand. And then grew based on some criteria, like if you have national councils, or if you have met, exceeded your growth, two years in a row … So I think, you know, that was a great incentive to encourage them. teachers to do it. . “
Since only a handful of schools host the program, teachers and students from other schools must visit the hosting sites. For example, Ashley welcomes her students from Wrightsboro and Murrayville and Castle Hayne students. She says working with new families was difficult at first, but the program now allows for productive collaboration between teachers.
“Parents… it took them a while to figure it out without. Well, you’re not from Maryville, are you?” Who are you? So building that relationship with them was, I won’t really say a struggle at first, but it took a while for them to get used to the way we do things for the blazing summer versus theirs. usual home school, ”said Ashley.
The three women agree that the hard work is rewarding and that they see the progress of the program firsthand. Zemir Bellamy is a rising senior at New Hanover High School. He was identified as “at risk” as summer approaches, but is now on track to graduate a semester early.
“It’s a lot more instruction, instead of being on computer screens. So I think it was a lot better for us to get the instruction – one instruction on one, “Zemir said.
The summer program offers classes smaller than a typical school year. When I walked around New Hanover High, I saw no more than seven students in a classroom, some with more than one teacher in each. Zemir is one of more than nine thousand students who have been invited to the program in New Hanover County, but less than four thousand students have actually committed to attend. The program was optional for eligible students. Those who are in the classes are the ones who want to be there. But in the fall, there will still be around five thousand students who did not receive help from the summer intensive.
Robert Ott teaches in the Summer Ignite program and heads the science department at New Hanover High School. According to him, these students can have a difficult transition.
“It’s basically going to be about starting over. We saw that with those who came back this spring, or last fall, when we had incoming and outgoing groups, that it was a period of adjustment, ”he said.
Robert is proud of the growth he and his colleagues have made with the students over the summer, but he admits that if he could change anything in the program he hopes to achieve all students who need help.
When I asked Anita, Kimberly and Ashley about the return of this program in the future, the three women agreed that if a program like Summer Ignite could be put in place on short notice for such a short time and continue to create opportunities for students, why not pursue similar programs in the future? Anita says there is a possibility.
“I don’t think we can dispute the success of the program. Of course you know with bonuses it just depends on what the teachers are going to be paid and what those bonuses might look like. And these are just exceptional factors over which we have no control. But you know I think if things fall into place I’m sure the district would love to do it, ”said.