Community Schools – What Happens When School is Out for the Summer?

maribel-rodriguezby Maribel Rodriguez
Oquirrh Hills Elementary Community School Director

“If school is out, don’t you get the summer off?”

This question always comes up with teachers, school staff, and the many partners we work with; and, it is a valid, good question. This will be my second year with United Way of Salt Lake as a Community School Director at Oquirrh Hills Elementary.  So, what do we do if school is out for a good three months??!! Surely we would slow down, right? Not exactly. In fact, a lot of the critical work is done in the summer!

At the end of the school year, around the 3rd week of May, Community School Directors are working on end-of-school-year events, and preparing for summer school and/or programming over the summer. It is important to note that while many families are preparing to go on family vacations, staycations, and other fun summer activities, this isn’t the case for all families. For many of our students, families, and community members, summer means finding additional child care and sometimes meal replacement for the meals that the school provides during the school year. Most families also look for a way to make sure their student will retain what they have learned in order to avoid “summer slide” –  the loss of knowledge from the prior school year, as a result of not being in school during the summer.

Summer School

Summer School

Our students and families have the wonderful opportunity to enroll their students in the Summer School Program, which our amazing partnership with The Boys and Girls Club provides. The program lasts eight weeks and helps student retain what they have learned, and also get them participating in fun enrichment programming that includes educational games and field trips to the local aquarium, planetarium, parks, etc. We work with our friends at Boys and Girls Club, as well as our school’s Instructional Coach, to obtain data that will indicate if what we do is working, how well it is working, and help inform future plans to increase our students’ success.

As Community School Directors, another big part of our summer work is the summer planning we do as individuals, together as a school director team, and even with our neighborhoods –  Guadalupe Charter School, South Salt Lake, Kearns, Park City, Davis, and Midvale. We frequently hold strategic summer planning meetings where we collaborate on the upcoming school year. One of the coolest things I experience is seeing how our work evolves and how it fits into large-scale change that lasts. We can see how our work functions across the board for our neighborhoods, communities, partners, volunteers, etc. There is so much that happens on many levels, and we don’t get to see that much during the school year. But seeing it all come together for over 137,000 students across the Wasatch front, is a spectacular sight!

Summer School

Summer School

During the summer, Community School Directors receive so much help from our home office at United Way of Salt Lake, community partners, volunteers, and community members. Everyone we collaborate with supports our mission to ultimately eradicate poverty and make our communities strong. I am grateful for every single person who contributes to United Way of Salt Lake, because YOU champion our communities’ work.

Summer programming makes back-to-school even more successful!

Thank you for being a force for good! 

Summer School

Summer School

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