Teachers and staff at Scott Academy are taking their students around the world this summer. With passports in hand, pre-kindergartners to fifth-graders sample food, play games and read stories from Burma, Mexico, China and Africa, all at the Shawnee library branch. The seven-week program, Passport to Reading, ensures students continue learning, even in the summer.
“We were concerned about the loss of reading skills. We found that our students lose 10 to 18 percent of what they learned throughout the year during the summer months,” said Principal Crystal Thomas.
The program's coordinator, Sara Zuber, teamed up with Heather Grady, the children's librarian at Shawnee, to offer the program. Grady helped Scott Academy with its previous summer reading program, Reading Rocks, held at the school. This year, the program was moved to the library to encourage families to spend more time there.
“Families get used to coming to the library and become more aware of the services and resources available,” said Thomas.
The number of students and families varies greatly from week to week because of summer camp and vacations, but Zuber said more parents have expressed an interest in involving their students because Fort Wayne Community Schools is not offering summer school this year as a result of budget cuts.
Candy Bower brings her three children to the library every Tuesday for the program and plans to continue until the end. She said it gives her children something to do over the summer.
“They learn and have the opportunity to do things they've never done before and try foods they've never eaten.”
Each week the program attracts between 65 and 75 students in pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. This week was the third week for the program. This week's featured countries are Burma and Thailand. The program's theme was chosen because Scott Academy offers the English Language Learners program, a FWCS program to help students with limited English skills
“We wanted to expose students to the different cultures of ELL students,” said Zuber. Some of the other countries were chosen by the students.
The work and resources put into the program come entirely from Scott Academy's teachers and staff.
“What I'm most proud of is that the staff has volunteered to help make all this possible,” said Thomas.