| by Elaine Marranzano |
Surprised by the lack of summer school for young children, local parents are organizing something of their own to fill the gap.
Sleepy Hollow residents Michael Kampen and Rachel Schroeder are spearheading efforts to create an academic summer camp for children about to enter first grade in the Tarrytown School District.
“When our daughter left kindergarten, she was already struggling,” said Kampen. “We naturally assumed the school would have a summer program so she didn’t fall further behind, but there is nothing.”
Kampen and Schroder and two other families are in talks with Tarrytown School Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet about a pilot program to start this summer for children entering first grade with a primary focus on literacy and some math.
“We are taking care of our own daughter’s extra academic needs by teaching her at home and paying for some very expensive programs,” said Kampen, “but we realized there is no affordable program to help other young children in the district avoid the ‘summer slide.’”
It is well- documented that during the long summer weeks children forget a lot of what they just learned. The Tarrytown School District offers summer school only for high school students.
“Its focus is on helping kids graduate,” said Clouet “but literacy is best mastered when children are younger.”
The vision for the academic summer camp pilot is a six to ten-week program for 15 to 18 children and three teachers. Mornings would focus on academics, while the afternoons would be more about fun and play, perhaps incorporating math or reading games. The program would take place at one of the public school buildings and be open to everyone with a sliding-scale tuition.
Unlike summer school offered through the district, which is funded by taxpayers, Kampen and Schroeder are raising money through grants and individual donations to fund the academic camp, even offering a dollar for dollar match for individual contributions out of their own pocket.
“It’s impressive that they are channeling their passion for children who need a little extra boost into a program,” said Clouet who added that the school district’s role may include providing space, identifying teachers and possible funding sources and curriculum development.
“Our intent with this pilot program is to benchmark the results and show that it works,” said Kampen. ”We think an academic camp like this will strengthen the school system.”
Benchmarked data generated from the pilot program will be used to lobby New York State to fund the continuation of the program in the future, according to Kampen.
For more information about the academic summer camp or to make a donation or volunteer, please send a message to: email@example.com.