Rochester Public Schools redesigns summer school programming

Jordan Shearer, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—Summer school is going to look a little different in Rochester than it normally does.

The Rochester School Board heard an update on plans for the summer during its meeting Tuesday. The program has been dubbed "RPS Summer of Discovery."

Amy Eich, executive director of community education, said the district has targeted four focus areas. She said those areas will help develop the "whole child" rather than focusing on students' academic skills.

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The four areas are academics, providing experiences to students, helping them build relational skills, and focusing on their wellness, Eich said.

Details being ironed out. It's uncertain how many students will be able to take part in the program and the programming is still being developed.

Eich said some of the features that will be built into the programming include things like embedded mental health supports, small learning groups, and outdoor experiences. A video promoting the summer program to educators encourages them to bring their interests, hobbies and passions to the table.

Eich said the redesign of the summer school concept began with a task force. The group's first priority was to find ways to reconnect students after a year of COVID-19 with their peers, their teachers, and with the schools themselves.

"We've really focused on experiences and that project-based learning approach," Eich said.

Eich said the redesign of the summer program has been possible because of the COVID-19 relief funding the district has received. She said there is enough funding to support the programming both this summer and next summer. However, she would like to see it continue even beyond that.

"The goal is to set the groundwork and learn how to do this better over the next couple of year. We're trying in these two summers to kind of craft this new way of doing summer, so that in the summers that follow, we already have the knowledge, the capacity and the examples we need to carry it on from there," Eich said. "Being able to use these funds to achieve something we have wanted to do for a number of years and haven't had the dollars, in my mind, is a bit of a silver lining of the whole COVID experience."