By Lily Jaquith
Western Washington University communications intern
Anyone going to the Campell Nelson car dealership on Highway 99 in Edmonds would expect to find cars being serviced, people shopping and sales being made. What you might not expect to see is summer school in session.
Three days a week for the past five weeks, local elementary school teachers have volunteered their time to conduct a “summer academy” for students who could use some extra help. Their students, ranging in age from 5-12, were ELL (English Language Learners, with Spanish as their first language) from low-income families.
All five participating teachers come from Edmonds’ Sherwood Elementary, although the program isn’t affiliated with the Edmonds School District. “One of the other teachers… (said) we should take a few of the kids to the zoo this summer,” said teacher Kelly Larson. “Well, if we’re going to take them on field trips, we might as well do a little reading… and math.”
Locating the academy at Campbell Nelson was a natural fit, given the car dealership’s previous donation of rooms for ELL parents to take English classes during the school year, as well as a room for child care while the classes were being held. “We got the room and then everything else just started falling into place,” Larson said.
Of course, with an unusual location comes some difficulties for the teachers. “We’re not in a classroom and it’s a small space with lots of different, multi-age children,” Larson noted. “But it’s pretty ideal, because we have four teachers… you couldn’t ask for a better teacher-to-student ratio.”
In addition to Larson, the teachers were James Gibson, Adrian Brudvik, Libby LeCompte and Anne Gregerson. They also had guest teachers, including Edmonds-Woodway High School drama teacher Bruce Mindt, who taught the kids how to make animal noises, and his wife, Sherwood teacher Kathy Mindt, who provided a lesson in making animal collages using magazines. Both experiences were tied into a planned field trip to the Woodland Park Zoo.
On Tuesdays, the students focused on reading, writing and math in small groups, targeting their individual learning levels. Afterward, they visited the Edmonds Library for the read-aloud program. (Twelve of the students also now have library cards.) Kindergarten teacher LeCompte focused on preparing the seven preschoolers in the class for kindergarten.
Wednesdays, the students focused on additional reading, writing and math activities, with art after lunch. Thursdays were field trip days, including visits to the zoo, the Seattle Aquarium and the Edmonds beach.
Campbell Nelson donated the use of a van for field trips and the group also received financial donations from Cline Jewelers and a few private individuals. The Brudvik family provided healthy snacks and lunches, and the zoo and aquarium gave free admission to the students.