You know school is back in session when kids are already looking forward to summer. So too is the School District and Maite Iturri, principal of El Verano Elementary, who is co-coordinating the summer school program. Her thoughts:
Q: Why is summer school important? Will it be different this year?
A: Summer school helps support the ongoing development of student learning. In-person learning time was limited this year and therefore summer school is more important than ever to help kids build their academic muscle for the fall. We know there are opportunity gaps for many students, and summer school is a good place for them to get that extra attention they need for their continued growth. Summer Literacy will expand to include math instruction.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your involvement with summer school at SVUSD.
A: I love watching children learn how to read and create a learning environment where they see themselves in the literature, and develop a sense of identity that propels their sense of inquiry and curiosity. I have dedicated my professional life to support the vision of academic excellence, identity, curiosity and joy! To that end I am coordinating the K-12 summer school program to help students continue that journey of learning this summer.
Q: What are you most optimistic about for students?
A: The technology skills they have developed this year are like no other year of learning. They had opportunities to learn technology skills that otherwise would not have been available. I have watched student presentations on environmental issues and read powerful persuasive writing about what children want in their schools. My optimism is rooted in that this generation is living a historical event that has challenged and changed all of us. Children have developed skills and knowledge as a result of this experience. I have watched children champion causes in their community to help serve a greater good. This awareness may not have developed had it not been for this epic moment in time.
Q: What message would you like to give our community?
A: I think it is important to build on the strengths and assets we have as a community of learners. The educational experience of our students was disrupted this year from what we have come to know as normal. Some students found success in an online environment and many need in-person instruction to thrive. Taking the lessons we learned from this period of time and applying them to future educational programming could inspire some innovative opportunities for our students. There is an opportunity to revolutionize how we do education. Our teachers made dramatic shifts in their teaching from spring 2020 to fall 2020. They are innovative and responsive, we don’t want to lose that energy!
— With thanks to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation