August 5, 2002
NSD's Summer Academy offers 3 R's and much more
by Jeanette Knutson
The Northshore School District's Elementary/Junior High Summer Academy hosted an Open House last week.
Two hundred fifty students attended this year's four-week academy held on the Canyon Creek Elementary and adjacent Skyview Junior High campuses.
The curriculum offered both skill-building and enrichment classes. One hundred of the attendees were special- needs students. In addition, the district hosted a two-week Computer Camp at Arrowhead Elementary where 50 third- through sixth-graders brushed up on their computer tech skills.
Thirty enthusiastic, creative teachers staffed the Summer Academy, headed by Academy Principal Susan Jackson. Jackson, who teaches a 3rd grade/4th grade combination at Arrowhead Elementary during the regular school year, is very much a hands-on Summer Academy principal. She knows what's going on in each of the classrooms and knows many of the students by name.
The academy had 25 instructional assistants and many volunteers from the community, including George Immerwahr, a 93-year-old gentleman who helped out with junior high math.
When Principal Jackson handed Mr. Immerwahr his Certificate of Appreciation for participating in the Summer Academy, he said to Jackson, "Now you be sure to put me down for next year."
Four students from Bastyr University took part in the academy as part of a work/study program.
A retired district teacher was a fulltime volunteer in a first-grade skill-building class. A young woman who was a student teacher for the district from August through March taught an art class. The special needs program had a speech therapist, an occupational therapist and a fulltime nurse.
"We have quite a workforce from the community," said Jackson, "in addition to our paid work staff."
But what made the Summer Academy special - and what was readily apparent at the Open House - was the excitement that the teachers brought to their subjects.
Eve Hammond, dressed in elaborate medieval attire for the Open House, taught a multi-graded reading and writing enrichment class with a "Middle Ages" theme. Students read and wrote about the time period but also created lovely illuminated letters, tapestry squares, stained glass windows and shields. They played with puppets, had a medieval dance, went on quests.
For the Open House, the class partook in a medieval feast, complete with a King and Queen table, golden crowns and goblets. Students brought medieval fare of dried meat, fresh fruits and bread.
"We had great parent support," said Hammond.
Suzanne Kohl taught a multi-graded science enrichment class. Students worked on a number of fascinating life-science projects.
For example, they examined owl pellets (fumigated owl droppings) to find undigested fur and bones from rats, voles, mice, shrew and birds inside. In one pellet, students found parts of 11 tiny skulls. Students also observed worm farms, watched the worms tunneling, saw the ground turning over, mixing, as the worms moved throughout the container. The children also designed their own pill bug experiment.
They made predictions, gathered evidence, drew conclusions and made presentations. They kept science journals and kept abreast of the Orca whale "Springer's" progress (as she was released back into the wild) and the pilot whales that were beaching on the East Coast.
"Students were so involved in each unit, I practically had to tear them away from one to start another," said Kohl.
David Holley taught a learning-centered reading/writing/math class for special education students.
The class theme was "Alaska." Students read about the Ididerod dog race through Alaska, panned for gold, made dioramas containing models of dogsleds, drew pictures of Husky dogs, made Scrimshaw-like carvings out of white soap and what looked like black paint, crafted "soap stone" carvings out of green soap, made booklets with pictures of Alaska taken from the Internet.
Classes were as varied as the teachers and that some students didn't miss a single day of Summer Academy is entirely understandable.
"Education has a hope and a place," said Principal Jackson. "These are good folks, all of them."