LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This summer Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) launched its most ambitious plan for summer programming with a variety of options for students.
This is crucial as it provides a variety of options so Pre-K through 12th graders can have as much in-person learning and interactions as possible, after year of mostly virtual teaching.
Ten-year-old JCPS student Camron Moran remained in the virtual classroom his entire fourth grade year at Norton Commons Elementary School.
“It was hard because I had to do everything from on a screen, and I like to do it on paper,” Moran told Spectrum News.
So when Moran got back to in-person learning, thanks to a JCPS summer camp program called “Literacy &” he was thrilled.
“It feels great because I am actually seeing other human beings other than on a screen,” Moran said.
“Literacy &” is just one of one of JCPS’ many summer programs this year, which combines reading with a fun character-building opportunity, such as swimming, karate, chess, to name a few.
Moran participated in the Literacy & Robotics summer camp at Chancey Elementary School this year, which was led by JCPS English as a second language (ESL) Teacher Stephanie Chavez.
Chavez told Spectrum News 1 it’s important for students to attend school summer camps but this summer is even more important due to how much inconsistency students have faced during the pandemic.
“And so in-person summer camps, it’s just going to add more consistency to their life leading into the fall, leading into getting back in classrooms and hopefully getting back to some sort of normalcy,” Chavez said.
The Literacy & Robotics summer camp Moran participated in was for 3rd through 5th graders, but Chavez said summer school camps are even more important for younger students.
“They had their kindergarten year virtually … coming into a school building and functioning in a school building for them is going to be quite the challenge. Well, what better way to get them prepared and prepped for the fall than in a building,” Chavez said.
JCPS spokesperson Renee Murphy told Spectrum News that JC 1PS could see close to 10,000 students participate in some type of program this summer.
“So we have programs available for students with special needs. We have programs available for students who English as a second language. All of our ‘Literacy and Numeracy &,’ and some of our high school programs, our gifted and talented programs, our early education programs, and they all have different start dates and end dates,” Murphy said.
Murphy said JCPS’ in-person “Literacy &” program, which started in 2015, had 26 different programs this year with 650 registered students.
However, the largest JCPS in-person summer program this year is called Backpack League, which is for students entering 1st grade through 12th grade.
“So we went from 1,000 students in-person in 2019 for our first summer of Backpack League, to now this summer we will have between 6,000 and 7,000 students engaged in in-person learning that will be with a certified teacher to help improve and strengthen reading and math skills,” Murphy said.
Murphy said it was important for JCPS to make as many opportunities available as possible for students so the school district could engage with them outside the traditional school year.
“That’s always important to us, but this year, coming off of being fully virtual, having a hybrid-schedule, we know that going into next school year we want to have as much time as possible with students, and these summer programs allow us a chance to do that,” Murphy said.
Chavez said the variety in JCPS summer programming is key.
“As people, as learners, we all have weaknesses, and so these different camps can address not only different parental needs like, ‘This parent needs this camp for this time period or I can’t do that camp but we can do this camp,’ and so it also addresses those different learning styles, different learning needs,” Chavez explained.
Moran said he’s signed up for two more JCPS camps this summer, which are both in-person.
“Because when I was on virtual [learning], I really couldn’t focus that much because there’s so many things around me, and when I am in-person I’m able to focus more,” Moran said.
JCPS’ in-person summer programs are already at capacity, but Murphy said to check JCPS’ website throughout the summer for updates, in case there are changes or openings.
There is no capacity limit or registration required for Summer League, which is JCPS’ virtual summer program for all JCPS students, regardless of grade level. For more info, click here.