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TCSS plans summer camp to bridge learning gaps

The Troup County School System is getting creative to try to bridge any learning gaps created by the pandemic during the 2020-2021 school year.

On Thursday, Deana Brown, director of elementary education for the Troup County School System, presented the Troup County School Board with the idea of a Summer Dreamers Camp for elementary school students. Although Brown focused on elementary school, the board said options for other grade levels will be unveiled soon.

The six-week camp would likely start in June and be held into July. Students would attend four days a week, Monday through Thursday.

“It is really to work with all aspects of the whole child, their social-emotional growth, their physical growth, as well as their academic growth,” Brown said.

TCSS would hope to get students who participated in virtual schooling this year, as well as students who show below grade level.

Brown said literature, phonics, guided reading and math would be a focus of the camp, but there would also be hands-on activities. She said a focus would be placed on building resilience, empathy and a positive sense of sense.

TCSS hopes to get 35% of students at each elementary school to participate.

Brown said the hope is to get enough teachers to participate where students will get a chance to meet a teacher from the grade they are rising into.

For instance, a rising third grade student might be at camp with a third-grade teacher from their school.  The camp will be formatted in a camp-style, with teachers serving as a camp counselor. Board Chair Cathy Hunt asked about teacher interest.

“So far it’s been easier to get the teachers to commit to the four weeks in June,” Brown said.

“The two weeks in July, there’s less wanting to participate. If you combine it together, we need about 15 more teachers.”

Brown said she is working with Human Resources Director Derek Pitts about recruiting retired educators to participate.

The next step, Brown said, is to find out about student interest in the summer camp.

Superintendent Brian Shumate said the camp will be paid for via CARES funding, as the school system’s elementary school curriculum budget will increase from $300,000 to $1.2 million.

“We are talking about a substantial investment in trying to address that learning loss this summer,” Shumate said.