Program to halt ‘summer slide’ gives education students valuable experience
The University of Louisville and J.B. Atkinson Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood are teaming up this summer to help elementary students avoid the “summer slide” in reading skills that can happen during the school break.
About 110 elementary school students are part of Summer Boost, a free program that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. week days through July 3 and includes transportation, breakfast and lunch, field trips and learning materials. Atkinson teachers and UofL students and faculty from the College of Education and Human Development are providing staffing.
Now in its fourth year, the program is popular with undergraduate and graduate level education students because it provides them with valuable classroom experience. CEHD literacy professor Christine Sherretz, UofL’s liaison to Atkinson and primary organizer of the event, said the graduate students in this year’s program are all certified teachers working toward a master’s degree in literacy. All of the 14 UofL students participating in the program are volunteers, which helps keep costs down, too.
“Some of the students use Summer Boost as their practicum in reading intervention,” Sherretz said. “The graduate students have two assignments. One is to do a case study and work one-on-one with a student who might need diagnostic reading assessments to determine their needs. The second thing they do is teach a small group based on the needs of the kids. And, to gauge student progress, they do assessments at the beginning and end of the program.”
Graduate student and first grade teacher Lauren Frey said her participation in Summer Boost will give her enough experience to earn certification to teach grades K‒12.
“I’ll have that much more experience if I want to move to a higher grade,” Frey said. “I’ve definitely gotten better at giving assessments. I’m really learning how to individualize my instruction.”
Atkinson is in a traditionally underserved area of Louisville. Summer Boost gives students much-needed help and confidence in their reading skills, Sherretz said.
“Programs like this can make a big difference,” she said. “Not only are the students learning new material and reinforcing what they already know but they are learning in a fun, engaging environment. We want to boost kids forward so they will be prepared for the next academic year. Best of all, we are connecting kids with books that are of interest to them. In the end, we want to create lifelong readers. ”
To encourage summer reading, participants will be able to earn up to $40 in “book bucks” by taking part in various activities throughout the program. They can use the money to buy books during an outing to Barnes and Noble on Hurstbourne Parkway on the last day of classes.
Summer Boost funding comes from the Sutherland Foundation. UofL’s support of Atkinson is part of the university’s Signature Partnership initiative, an effort to enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of West Louisville.