Gloversville program combines academics, recreation

GLOVERSVILLE – Some of the students of the Gloversville Enlarged School District are making an extra effort to keep their minds sharp this summer.

They are attending the Summer Learning Academy at the middle school.

The academy, in its first year, aims to motivate students and improve their reading and math skills in a fun environment.

The four-week Summer Learning Academy is entering the final week.

About 100 district children, either in elementary school or going into sixth grade, are attending the academy. They are there because their parents chose to send them.

The district hopes to offer the program again next year, district officials said.

The afternoon recreation part of the academy is what makes it unique.

The academy uses technology, recreation and both physical and mental activity throughout the day to get students’ attention to learn, work together and spend the summer break improving their academic skills.

During the morning, from 9 a.m. to noon, the children work on reading and math. The intention is to prevent them from losing skills over the summer and going into their next grade already needing to play catch-up, officials said.

The students are improving their reading and math skills while working in small groups and using iPad apps such as eSpark to improve their math and reading abilities.

The iPads will be in more Gloversville classrooms this school year to help engage students and improve their skills.

“They’re hopefully going to come in September and be able to go forward and not have to go back and relearn skills,” Literacy Coach Lisa Priolo said.

Nine Gloversville teachers are spending part of their summer teaching at the academy, the district says.

After lunch, the students participate in three rotating stations of recreational activities. One of the stations always is swimming. Priolo said some of the younger students have learned to swim over the past month.

The other two stations include organized games such as kickball and capture the flag.

Superintendent Michael Vanyo envisioned the Summer Learning Academy as a way to ensure all students are ready for the 2013-14 school year and have a safe, fun summer.

“It is so important that our students’ summers aren’t wasted. This academy motivates students to be lifelong learners – a crucial component of our strategy to improve our graduation rate with a districtwide approach,” he said.

Teacher Paula Malagasi heads the Summer Learning Academy. She said attendance has been good and students are enjoying the educational and fun activities.

Last week, students had an ice cream sundae party during lunch to celebrate the halfway mark of the program.

There are daily rewards for students’ academic efforts.

“It is so important that we encourage these students, and all students, to put their academic achievements first,” Vanyo said.