Who’s IN when school’s OUT?

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During the lazy, hazy days of summer, public schools go on a welcome hiatus. Children enjoy staying up late, attending camp, playing with friends and setting out on family vacations while teachers and administrators sleep late and loll around the pool, right?


“Many of our educators are teaching summer classes, taking courses to expand their knowledge while earning advanced degrees or engaged in leadership and training conferences,” says Granby Superintendent of Schools Cheri Burke, adding that most days will find her and her administrative team in their offices, planning for the school year ahead.

Granby Memorial High School students engaged in a pre-vocational landscaping project took a welcome break to greet their administrators. From left, Angela Ehrenwerth, director of pupil and personnel services; Tristan Sheppard; Jake Rossi; Austin Munson; Cheri Burke, superintendent of schools; Jennifer Parsons, assistant superintendent of schools. Photo by Nicole Muller

That includes interviewing and hiring 20 new teachers at all levels, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, and planning the two-day new teacher orientation that takes place in late August before the district’s full staff returns to work. Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Parsons is heavily involved in these efforts.

“Central Services staff and administrators are busy preparing for an exciting school year ahead,” Parsons says. “We are planning professional development, ordering supplies, reviewing and revising curriculum, analyzing data and reviewing new legislation and policy to ensure we’re in full compliance.”

The Board of Education building is not the only academic venue in Granby that’s abuzz. At Kelly Lane School, Granby’s three- and four-year-old special needs children attend a half-day integrated pre-school program to bolster their skills, avoiding the learning loss that a two-month summer hiatus from school’s structure and support inevitably brings.

Under the creative eye of teacher Kristy Lankford, children enrolled in the art enrichment program create designs for a sculpture and fiber-arts project. From left, Lennon Mancini, Karson Cummings, Rory Malone. Photo by Nicole Muller

“Other activities for special education children include individual and small-group tutoring and life and social skills instruction and opportunities,” explains Angela Ehrenwerth, director of pupil and personnel services. “Students also participate in speech, language, occupational and physical therapy when one or more of these is included in their individual education plan.” In addition, high school students engage in pre-vocational training.

For students entering grades one through five, a host of enrichment classes is offered at Kelly Lane School at parents’ expense. “We offer everything from engineering to violin lessons to art,” Parsons explains. Enrichment is offered at about $80 per class per week to cover the instructor and supplies, with one teacher per 10-12 students. Parents can register children for one or two classes per day for one week or for up to three weeks.

“This gives our kids a chance to connect with teachers and each other over the summer and to explore their interests,” Parsons says. “I don’t think we turn anyone away. If a popular offering gets over-enrolled, we can hire another teacher and add a second class.” The enrichment program, Burke notes, is self-sustaining. “It provides awesome opportunities for children to socialize while exploring new vistas under expert teachers’ supervision in a safe environment.”

In addition, elementary school children who would benefit from summer literacy and/or mathematics support attend RAMP, a reading and math intervention program designed to “ramp up” their skills for the new school year. This, too, comes at no cost to families or taxpayers. For the last two summers, RAMP has been fully funded by Granby’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan (Covid Recovery) Grant, awarded to the Connecticut Department of Education to close the learning gap created by the interruption of traditional instruction during the pandemic.

Granby resident Nick Witherell, a science and math teacher in Westfield, has been a RAMP instructor in Granby for seven summers. He and Wells Road School math interventionist Kierstan Pestana design fun, hands-on, individual and group problem-solving opportunities to boost students’ skills and enhance their confidence as the new school year approaches.

While these learning opportunities keep Kelly Lane School hopping during the so-called “lazy” summer days, high school students are hard at work at Granby Memorial Middle School while construction on the high school’s new roof is completed.

“Part of our summer enrichment is credit recovery for students entering grades 10-12,” Parsons explains. “Students who did not earn full credit in one or more high school classes, for a host of reasons, may choose to revisit the course and recover the credit.” Participants attend classes two days a week and work online from home two days on individual learning plans, spending 16 hours each week, four per day, under the expert eyes of teachers who guide their progress. Families pay about $200 per class to cover the cost of the instructor and supplies.

Katie Busbey, a teacher and enrichment coach at Wells Road School, serves as director of Granby’s summer enrichment program. From her front-row seat for this summer’s activities, Busbey has observed impressive attendance and excitement from both students and teachers.

“I see teachers getting together with their content-based coaches to develop/revise/expand curriculum for the up-coming school year, while others are coming in to get their classrooms ready before rushing off to meetings,” Busbey says.

While this summer has been hazy for everyone and lazy for some, it has been crazy busy for many Granby students, teachers and administrators.

Here’s to a great start to another promising and successful school year for all.