Combating Summer Learning Loss with Reading, Writing, and Fun
Long-time teachers John and Julie Leonard have taught summer school for many years, but they’ve never seen such a positive reaction from their summer students until now.
“I love the program,” said Julie Leonard, who spent six weeks this summer teaching rising second and third graders in a Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program funded partially by Rappahannock United Way. “I taught regular summer school in the past. I see such a difference in the motivation of the kids.”
The children that husband and wife team John and Julie Leonard taught were eager to attend because every day was a new adventure. After a bus ride to their school, they had breakfast and spent the morning working on reading, phonics and writing. After lunch, they took a field trip to local destinations such as Hugh Mercer’s Apothecary Shop and the Marine Corp Museum and then wrote about their experiences the following day.
“The field trips are a great piece of motivation to get them here,” said Julie Leonard who teaches second grade at Conway Elementary in Stafford during the regular school year. “They get experiences they wouldn’t otherwise get. To be able to write about their own personal experience is great – instead of just writing from a prompt. There’s definitely more motivation because they lived it.”
John Leonard said kids were so excited about the program last year they were still talking about it on the first day of school and asking if they could participate again.
“I taught summer school for 15 years before this,” said John Leonard, who teaches first grade at Falmouth Elementary in Stafford during the year. “They don’t see it as summer school. I get goose bumps talking about the program. Attendance is great because they want to be here.”
Rappahannock United Way funds programs like this because they are critical to the success of local students who need extra help in reading. Reading and overall school performance is measured. John said it typically takes six to eight weeks at the beginning of the school year for some students to get back to the level they were at when school got out in June. This program helps alleviate summer learning loss.
“The students who participate in the program are tested in reading before and after the program,” said John Leonard. “We didn’t have a single kid that regressed last year. They can relax and have fun and really learn the way they should be learning.”
Every day the students in the summer program take home a reading log. They’re rewarded with free books donated to the program if they read every night.
“We find that several of the kids in the program don’t have books at home,” said John Leonard, who believes it’s important for people to give to organizations like Rappahannock United Way because they support and focus on education. “We take things for granted. There are a lot of kids who don’t get the same opportunities without a program like this. We’re really blessed to have United Way and other groups step up and help these families.”
This summer 70 students in Spotsylvania, King George, Caroline and Stafford participated in this Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program. Want to know how you can help?
“This is your chance to put your money to good use for people who need it,” said John Leonard. “It’s with families that truly need it and truly want to be here.”