TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Cassia County School District is doing a full summer school program for the first time in many years to help the students who might have fallen behind during the pandemic.
At White Pine Elementary in Burley, about 90 students are spending the beginning of their summer break making up for some loss in learning. The teachers are also back teaching summer school because their summer programs did not happen last year.
The pandemic caused teachers and parents to rethink the way learning was done. Now that summer school can happen again the focus on filling learning gaps is bigger than ever. The hard work and innovation of educators during the pandemic were often successful, although there are still students who may have fallen behind.
"No matter how much you do to try and set up a successful situation,” said White Pine Assistant Principal Jacoby Sneddon. “It is really difficult for some children to be able to have that opportunity, whether it was having the access to the technology or even the internet."
For first-grade teacher Valerie Bame, the summer curriculum is literacy heavy, which she said is likely the most important element of learning for first graders.
“We are reading a lot, we are reading to the students, the students are reading with us,” said Bame.
A focus on literacy is also on the mind of teacher Trudy Hunt, who has created a reader’s theater as a way to promote some self-directed learning.
"It can be labor-intensive,” said Hunt. “We are cramming a lot into these three weeks, but to see these kids come alive and to be able to harness their energies.”
Both teachers said they are able to be a lot more focused during the Summer and they have great opportunities to work with a small group, which will hopefully make a great difference in a student’s education.
"We are just doing our best to get these kiddos caught up,” said Sneddon. “It is super important, and this is a foundational time for them and very important that they get these skills, and we are hoping to close that gap a little bit.”