Association of Washington School Principals
Volume 3 – 2020-21
Making School
A Re-Imagination of Summer School
Kim Casey, M. Ed.
Principal, Grandview High, Grandview SD
Evaluation Criteria: Creating a Culture, Engaging Communities
Each year as spring break approaches, districts begin the process of planning for summer school. This year is no different, but the Grandview School District knows summer school will have to shift as we try to re-engage learners.
By the time summer 2021 arrives, many of our students will have not been in a public education building for over a year. We had small cohorts return first and will be hybrid soon. Other districts are doing hybrid learning. There are even a very few lucky districts that are fully back. Regardless of where your district falls in this list, we can all agree that we need to make school fun again.
A ‘SUMMER CONFERENCE’ We immediately began brainstorming what summer school would look like. We knew for sure that summer school could not be from a computer. Educators and students are burned out from way too much screen time and no one wants another six weeks of Zoom. As soon as we started talking about making school fun again, our staffs’ ears started to perk up, and others began to lean in. Our interest surveys are showing that everyone is ready to shift the way we handle summer school.
This year, instead of typical credit retrieval classes, we are having a “Summer Conference” at Grandview High School. The conference is made up of six academic hours a day, four days a week for six weeks. Now, here is where it gets exciting: Imagine seniors who are retrieving English credit helping ninth-grade students learn about study skills, leadership and what it means to be a “Hound.” During these classes, students are improving communication skills, writing skills, building relationships, and earning an elective credit, (or possibly an English credit!) while meeting SEL standards too.
By the time summer 2021 arrives, many of our students will have not been in a public education building for over a year.
Have your creative educational imaginations started to run yet? Think about your varsity athletes working with middle school students to learn the sport of choice. In this example, we are working on relationship building, trust, and athleticism. But it gets even bigger: We will put on a one-day athletic event led by our CTE marketing students who are promoting, live-streaming, and running the event. Now we have PE credit, CTE credit, Leadership credit, and SEL standards being met.
For the Project Based Learning (PBL) fans out there, it keeps getting better. The English Department takes a group of students and writes a script for a musical. The Art and Drama students create a set, the band students prepare the music and the CTE students promote and live-stream the production. Now we have ELA, Art, Drama, Music and CTE credits earned and many standards being met.
These are just some examples where standards are met across many curricular areas. Students are earning credits but more importantly, students are transforming an empty building into one bursting with the noise and action that educators love.
ALL-HANDS ON DECK Our approach to Summer Conference will be an all hands-on deck philosophy. The team will be made up of administrators, counselors, new and veteran teachers, CWU students needing experience hours, YVC students who are just beginning their dream of being a teacher, our AVID and GEAR Up teams, etc. As John Hattie states, “It is the teachers who have created positive teacher-student relationships that are more likely to have the above average effects on student achievement.” We also need to take care of the social emotional well-being of our entire staff. This may remind them why they got into the field of education to begin with. They need to feel good, smile and recharge their emotional batteries.
As we got deeper into the planning, we know that we will work with the students and all members of our staff to let them be a part of the dream. Staff have made statements like, “we had a vacation planned, but I would love to help,” and my response is, “find someone to job-share with — we need you.” We need the visions, dreams, and talents of all our staff to pull this new summer school model together and to make it flourish.
RE-IMAGINING SUMMER SCHOOL This last year has impacted the way in which we deliver instruction, and we acknowledge that it will forever change education. We also know that we need to re-imagine summer school if we want our students to engage so they can fill some of their educational gaps and be ready for the 2021-22 school year.
We realize that we will have to honor all our health and safety requirements of whatever phase we are in at the time. We are willing to keep our six-foot distance, where our masks, and any other requirements if we can just work together to make the smiles on the faces of our students and staff shine through to make school fun again.
Find us on
Association of Washington School Principals
Washington Principal | Volume 3 – 2020-21