JCS Summer Experience Planned

JCS Summer Experience Planned
Posted on 03/29/2021
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Jefferson County Schools (JCS) will reimagine their summer program this year to offer students and staff an opportunity to expand learning and socialization opportunities beyond the traditional school year. The JCS Summer Experience will be open to all JCS students regardless of grade level or academic performance. The program will be a blend of traditional instruction, hands-on learning, and socialization with an emphasis on social-emotional support, as well as Science, the Arts, and Mathematics.
The six-week program will be held at five different sites from the middle of June through the end of July with a week off for the Independence Day Holiday. 
“We will be able to operate five sites five-days a week, which is a change from what we traditionally do,” said Alexander White, Coordinator of At-Risk Educational Programs for JCS. “We can provide students with transportation to and from the sites and offer them meals through our Child Nutrition Department.”
Mr. White has been working to develop the curriculum for the JCS Summer Experience. He said it has been designed with busy families in mind, with a daily schedule that follows a traditional pre-COVID school day. Mr. White said they want it to be for families in the summer what school is during the rest of the year.
“We are providing transportation, meals, learning, exercise, and fun. This is a safe place for students to be where they can work on some skills and make some connections they may have lost during the pandemic.”
To make it easier for families to access, the JCS Summer Experience will be divided up into sections. The elementary program, for example, will be broken up into three two-week academies focusing on Science, the Arts, and Mathematics. While there will not be opportunities for credit, school officials are optimistic that the academic components will help prevent summer learning loss. Mr. White added that the timing of the JCS Summer Experience also gives families time to be together and have a traditional summer in the early weeks of June and August, even if they take part in the full six-weeks. Still, Mr. White said, there will be flexibility. Students will be able to register to attend part or all of each block.
“It’s summer and we know families are busy. We don’t want them to pass up this opportunity because their vacation may overlap part of the experience. We want students to register and come for what they can because we think it is going to be a good experience for all of us.”
Dr. Lee Ebersole, the Director of the JCS of Social-Emotional Support Department, (SoMo) said JCS is taking full advantage of this opportunity that has come about due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“This year we were awarded $1.08 million through the state’s Summer SOLE Grant that is designated to create more robust summer programs for West Virginia students.”
Dr. Ebersole said that combined with money for summer enrichment through the federal CARES Act, JCS will be able to invest more than $1.5 million in the summer program. He said they hope to help students maintain the progress made during the school year while giving them the chance to engage in socialization and academic activity they may have been missing during remote learning or mandated quarantines.  Dr. Ebersole recognized that a more comprehensive summer program is something busy families need as well.
The JCS Summer Experience is open to all students regardless of their academic performance. It will be a hybrid of hands-on learning with instruction, time playing and engaging in physical activity, and time in the classroom depending on grade level. A survey for families who may be interested is available now at www.jcswv.org, and registration will open after Spring Break. 
“We are really excited about this,” Mr. White said. “We have never been able to make the summer program so big before, and we think it will be something students and staff who participate have sorely needed.”
Partner agencies will also be involved, including Alphabest and the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, to help with before and after care, and Jefferson County Parks and Rec. According to Mr. White, other groups may also join the effort. He said these groups are critical in the planning and implementation of the program.

© 2019 Jefferson County Schools. All Rights Reserved.